Mindy McCready was found hiding in a closet with her five-year-old son last night after defying a court order to return him to legal guardian.
Police raided the Arkansas home of Mindy McCready’s boyfriend at around 8:00 p.m. after tracking the pair down.
The country singer has been accused of stealing the boy from her mother, Gayle Inge, who has had custody of the grandson since 2007, during a recent visit to her Florida home.
A judge had signed an order for Mindy McCready’s son, Zander, to be taken into custody if he was not returned to his legal guardian by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
Florida Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said that her agency was working with Arkansas state officials to bring the youngster back to his maternal grandmother in Florida.
Officials say the boy is safe and in good health.
Gayle Inge was tearful when she spoke about the news last night.
“I’m real excited that he’s safe,” Gayle Inge said.
“But I can’t explain what this is like. We feel for Mindy and we feel for Zander.”
Gayle Inge said that her son – Mindy McCready’s half-brother – texted his sister, who responded with a text which said her mother would never see her again.
“I want to wrap my arms around her and tell her that I love her,” Gayle Inge said, adding that her daughter and grandson were found by authorities “hiding in a closet”.
The evening’s developments capped a days-long struggle between Mindy McCready – who is seven months pregnant with twins – and child welfare authorities and her own mother.
Authorities say Mindy McCready – who turned 36 on Wednesday – took the boy during a visit late last month to her father’s Florida home, where she was allowed to visit the boy.
Mindy McCready’s parents are divorced.
A Florida judge signed an order on Thursday telling authorities to take the boy into custody and return him.
It’s not yet clear whether the country singer could face criminal charges.
Mindy McCready said earlier in the week that she would not bring her son back from Tennessee, where she has a home, despite violating the custody arrangement.
The singer said that her son had suffered abuse at her mother’s house, a claim that Gayle Inge vehemently denies.
“I’m doing all this to protect Zander, not stay out of trouble,” Mindy McCready wrote in an email to The Associated Press (AP) on Thursday.
“I don’t think I should be in trouble for protecting my son in the first place.”
Mindy McCready told the AP on Wednesday night she was in Tennessee and could not travel because she is pregnant.
The boy’s father, Billy McKnight, told NBC’s Today show on Friday that he spoke on the phone with Mindy McCready and their son after the judge’s 5:00 p.m. Thursday deadline expired.
“He did sound healthy and ok. He wasn’t crying or scared,” Billy McKnight said about their son.
“I think she believes she has a case and doesn’t realize she’s pushing her luck on this one.”
Mindy McCready and her mother have had a long custody battle over the boy.
The singer had provided a series of emails to the AP with Lee County Judge James Seals’ ruling to return the boy.
“Mom has violated the court’s custody order and we are simply restoring the child back into our custody,” the judge wrote.
“Nothing more. Nothing less. The court makes no judgment about whether Mom will or will not competently care for the child while in her custody.
“It only wants the child back where the court placed him.”
Mindy McCready found fame in the mid-1990s when she moved to Nashville at the age of 18, armed with only her karaoke tapes.
Her first album, “Ten Thousand Angels”, sold two million copies.
Mindy McCready’s next four albums weren’t as successful. Her personal troubles began encroaching on her professional success.
According to her website, Mindy McCready suffers from severe depression.
In August, the singer filed a libel suit against her mother and the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., over a story published in the tabloid newspaper that quoted Gayle Inge.
In 2008, Mindy McCready was admitted to a hospital after police said she cut her wrists and took several pills in a suicide attempt.