Adopted Leekin child remains missing

Date: 2008-01-11
Source: tcpalm.com

Adopted Leekin child remains missing

By Will Greenlee (Contact)
Friday, January 11, 2008

One of 11 people adopted by accused child abuser Judith Leekin remains missing, and police Thursday asked for help finding him.

Leekin, 62, was arrested in July and later accused of using aliases to adopt 11 children in New York City between July 1988 and April 1996 and collecting up to $2 million for their care. Instead, she left them malnourished and bound with handcuffs and plastic ties, according to police.

Investigators found 10 of the adoptees but don't know what happened to Shane "Moo" Graham, who has Down syndrome, autism and sickle cell anemia. Adopted in September 1993, Graham was bottle fed and needed round-the-clock care. Now 19, he has a dark complexion and dark, wavy hair.

Investigators believe Graham lived in the Walton Lakes apartments on Walton Road with a babysitter between December 1999 and July 2000, said Detective Stuart Klearman. Leekin lived across town in a five-bedroom, four-bathroom home.

"Judith Leekin came over to the apartment as was her normal routine, took Shane and left and came back about 30 minutes later without him," Klearman said. "He's never been seen since."

Graham's adopted siblings were led to believe he was dead, Klearman said.

Graham, who was about 11 when last seen, got the nickname Moo because it was the only sound he could make. He can't walk and can't feed, cloth or bathe himself.

The state Department of Children and Families and local hospitals have no record of Graham, Klearman said. The other adoptees remain in DCF custody.

Leekin is in the St. Lucie County jail on $4.4 million bail. She's represented by Chief Assistant Public Defender Mark Harllee, who couldn't be reached for comment.

The local case against Leekin is on hold as federal authorities in New York City investigate her on adoption fraud charges.

"We expect New York to indict her and for her to take a plea (agreement) and be sentenced up there," said Jeff Hendriks, an assistant state attorney in Fort Pierce.

"We're wanting her to be sentenced to a total of around 20 years," he said, noting that Leekin refused a plea deal with that condition. "So it looks like we may be going to trial here."

Staff writer Tyler Treadway contributed to this report

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