Baby Gabriel Johnson Update: "Person of Interest" Tammi Smith Arrested for Custodial Interference
by Carlin DeGuerin Miller
PHOENIX (CBS/AP) Tammi Smith, a 'person of interest' in the disappearance of baby Gabriel Johnson, has been arrested at her Scottsdale, Ariz. home Tuesday.
Tempe police said Smith will be charged with custodial interference, conspiracy to commit custodial interference and forgery. The release did not elaborate on what the charges were based on.
Tammi and her husband Jack tried to adopt Gabriel but his biological father, Logan McQueary, refused to give up his parental rights. McQueary says that the Smiths continuously pushed him to surrender the child but he refused, according to CBS affiliate KPHO.
Since the beginning, police have said Tammi Smith was not completely forthcoming in her interviews with officers.
As late as last week Tammi Smith was saying she had nothing to do with Gabriel's disappearance, inviting the police to search her computer saying she had "nothing to hide."
Upon hearing of the arrest, McQueary said it was a long time coming. He and his family are currently on a road trip to retrace Johnson's steps in an effort to find baby Gabriel.
The 8-month-old disappeared shortly before his mother, Elizabeth Johnson, told McQueary she killed the child, and told police she gave him away to strangers during a Texas road trip.
Gabriel was last seen Dec. 26, 2009. Elizabeth Johnson, 23, was picked up by police Dec. 30 in Miami. She had left her car in San Antonio and eventually told police she gave her baby to strangers there.
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Tammi Peters Smith, who was
Tammi Peters Smith, who was allegedly married five times and who is said to have relinquished parental rights to her own three bio-kids, was reportedly obsessed with acquiring more children after she and her husband, Jack Smith (formerly a backup musician with the gospel group "The Happy Goodmans") adopted Jack's granddaughter, Hannah, without acquiring the legal consent of Hannah's real father, Travis Warford.
Warford claimed that the Smiths conspired with Jack's daughter, Nikki Smith Blank, to deprive him of his child-- the same sort of allegations later voiced by Gabriel Johnson's father, Logan McQueary, who said the Smiths threatened him and sought to coerce him into cooperating with their plans to adopt his child, whom he wished to parent and for whom he still holds sole legal custody.
Tammi Smith had posted numerous online solicitations seeking a free or cheap surrogate, prior to propositioning Elizabeth Johnson in a quest to obtain custody of Gabriel, and Smith had reportedly even performed an unsuccessful in-vitro fertilization on a young client of her colonics business, in her quest to obtain another baby, as documented in Tempe Police Department investigative records released to the public in 2011. The TPD records further noted that Smith had also solicited a pregnant couple at a fast food restaurant who appeared to be down on their luck and asked to adopt their baby; they reportedly cut off contact with the Smiths after the Smiths insisted that an adoption be done without any legitimate adoption agency oversight.
Tammi and Jack took placement of another granddaughter born to Jack's daughter Nikki in the fall of 2010 and are reported to have adopted her privately... without the birthfather's involvement.
Tammi Smith is currently scheduled to stand trial in August, 2011. Although she has continued to expand her business from 2010-2011 and reportedly acquired a home colonics machine patent and launched a company to sell do-it-yourself colonics machines for home use, she has claimed indigence and thus her legal representation is now being provided by Arizona taxpayers.