Shoars kids happy after being reunited

Parental rights terminated for Shoars children who were so happy to be returned home last year. Photo courtesy of the Shoars family.

by Health Impact News/ Staff

Jeff and Tabitha Shoars eagerly awaited the day when they would hear the final verdict from Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona. They firmly believed that the judge, who was presented with all the evidence in the case, would ultimately rule that their children should be returned home to their custody. Just before 8 am on Wednesday morning, May 24, they learned the horrible news: their children are not coming home and their parental rights have been terminated.

They are devastated. The ruling was released on their son Devin’s 10th birthday. Tabitha said that all he wanted for his birthday was to come home. Instead, the opposite has happened.

He is one of the 4 older Shoars children who will, at least for the time being, remain in an Arizona group home. His 2 youngest brothers are each in different foster homes.

They say that they are ready to fight back, legally, with everything within them. They plan to file an appeal as quickly as possible.

Tearful, angry, and broken, Tabitha took to Facebook on Wednesday evening. She has a message for all those involved in the legal kidnapping of their children:

Arizona, your worst nightmare is about to begin. We’re coming for our kids. And, no, we’re not going to do it the illegal way either, because I know for a fact that Arizona is thinking that…

‘Cause we have something a lot bigger than Arizona, and that’s mine and Jeff’s love for our children, ’cause we will literally go to the moon and stars and the universe and back for our kids.

They pray that an appeals court will give more weight to their evidence than to what they maintain is hearsay and fabrications by Arizona social services and Assistant Attorney General Bonnie Platter.

Even though the Shoars were under a gag order by the Arizona courts, they assume that the order is null and void now that their rights have been terminated, and they will no longer be silent.

Parents Blamed by Family Court for Daughter’s Death, but No Criminal Charges Were Ever Filed

At the heart of the issue for Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCF) is the matter of their daughter Khloe’s death on August 15, 2014, and who is to blame.

Tabitha and Jeff had gone on a date and left their children with a babysitter, “Rico.” At the time, they trusted the young man with their children, based on numerous observed interactions between Rico and the children. The kids treated him like a “big brother.”

The parents were called home later in the evening because there was an emergency. They came home to find police and emergency vehicles surrounding their home, and learned that 3 year old Khloe had been taken to the hospital in very serious condition. She passed away the next day.

See original story:

Arizona CPS Takes 7 Children Away from Parents after Accident

Their children were placed into foster care while Khloe’s tragic death was investigated. At the hospitals, doctors first told the parents that there were no signs of abuse. The cause of death was ultimately ruled “inconclusive” in the autopsy.  Some medical experts told the family that her symptoms were consistent with a brain aneurysm and vigorous resuscitation attempts.

However, DCF argued in the most recent court hearings that “any reasonable interpretation of the evidence” shows that Khloe died from abuse. Both Tabitha and Jeff were severely criticized by DCF for what they called an “unreasonable belief” that their daughter died from natural causes and a fall outside in the yard where she hit her head. That same child was born at just 27 weeks gestation, and had a brain hemorrhage at birth.


Tabitha and Jeff held Khloe in her tragic last moments. Photo provided by the family.

However, police investigations originally did not find sufficient cause to charge anyone with a crime. According to court documents, Sergeant Kalcum was the lead investigator for “baby deaths” for the Avondale Police Department, and has served in the department for 12 years. She investigated Khloe’s death from August 2014 to September 2015. The Shoars and the babysitter were questioned. The babysitter was arrested at one time, but subsequently released.

Tabitha reports that Kalcum testified on the stand in 2016 that there was no evidence to charge either parent or the babysitter.

Even though no one is in jail for abuse or murder or anything else in Khloe’s death, it was treated as a foregone conclusion by DCS in the recent 2017 hearings that she was abused and murdered, presumably by the babysitter, and the family is blamed for not knowing that the babysitter was capable of such.

How can the parents be blamed when a police investigation failed to find enough cause to bring any charges against anyone? How can the parents be blamed when no one is sitting in jail?

This seems very unjust to the Shoars, especially since DCS published a Fatality Summary Report, released on April 6, 2016, stating that the investigation was complete and the allegations of abuse or neglect were “unsubstantiated.”


From Arizona Fatality Summary Report April 6, 2016 – Public Record

That was the same day that the Shoars children were released to their grandparents’ custody and their case was dismissed.

Yet, a primary reason for the termination of parental rights this past week is that they allowed their daughter to be killed. According to court documents, they:

have not acknowledged their responsibility for their part in the death of KHLOE and as such, the children would continue to be at risk for abuse and neglect if they remained in the care of mother and father.

Family Moved to Nevada to Start Over and Heal

Shortly after their case was dismissed in 2016, the Shoars children moved with their grandparents and parents to Nevada. They were all together except for their oldest son Ian. In a cruel (but not uncommon) move by DCS, Tabitha and Jeff were told that they had to voluntarily sign over their rights to their autistic son, in order for DCS to get out of their lives. It was such an agonizing decision that they chose not to make that detail public when Health Impact News first published the news of the other children being returned. See:

Children Kidnapped by State of Arizona Finally Returned to Parents After 600 Days

Tabitha has since shared that, as heartbreaking as it was, at least he was in a good home with a good family. He was thriving and happy. Not so with the rest of the children, some of whom had shared that they were being abused in their foster placements.

When an elderly relative became ill back home in Michigan, where the Shoars were originally from, Jeff’s parents returned there to care for the relative. Health Impact News spoke with the grandparents last year, and they reported that they were confident that the children were in good, capable hands with their own parents, and that they talked almost daily with the children via Skype. They never believed that Jeff or Tabitha had anything to do with Khloe’s death, and they knew that their grandchildren loved and were loved by their parents.

Attorneys in Arizona had assured them that, once they were out of Arizona’s jurisdiction, they could decide to entrust the children back to their parents’ care if they so desired.

Edited Shoars photo with Grandparents

Shoars children with extended family. Photo provided by the family.

When our reporters spoke with the family, the children were happy and giggly in the background. A couple of the children wanted to talk on the phone and they told us that they were happy to be home. Like other children traumatized by being taken from their families, the Shoars children sometimes experienced nightmares, and they were more afraid of people in authority than they had been before. But they were home, together, and healing.

Arizona DCS Travels to Nevada to Kidnap Shoars’ Children

In August of 2016, Tabitha gave birth to another baby. In a bizarre twist of events, Arizona DCS contacted Nevada Child Protective Services with “new” allegations, which were in fact just the same allegations as before. Nevada social workers investigated and found no cause for concern, but that did not suit the apparent agenda of Arizona DCS.

On August 25, 2016, Arizona social workers drove to Nevada and seized all of the Shoars children except the newborn. Nevada social workers stood firm that the new baby was under their jurisdiction and there was no grounds to take her.

The children who had been so happy to be together with their parents again were horrified when the social workers told them they were taking them. Some of them had previously been abused in foster care in Arizona.

Their mother was able to record the event and their cries of terror are disturbing:



Arizona Kidnaps Shoars Children from Nevada, Children Scream in Terror As They are Dragged Away (audio)

Children’s Desires to go Home Ignored

During the course of the trial, the children let their Guardian ad litem know that they wished to speak with the judge. On April 21, the 4 older children met with the court independently of their parents. According to the court record:

Each indicated that they loved their parents and that if they could not go home to their parents, they wanted to live with their grandparents.

On numerous occasions, their mother told our reporters that she was confident that, once the judge talked with them and heard them, he would see how much they were loved and wanted to go home.

Their screams of terror when being taken from their parents were ignored last August, and their pleas to go home to be with their parents were ignored by Judge Joseph C. Welty in his decision on May 23, 2017. All this was done, reportedly, “in the best interest of the children.”

Tabitha recently put together montages of photos on YouTube for each of their 6 children who are now not coming home. The photos show a history of a loving family with happy, thriving children.

Bentley – age 4

Xzaviar – age 5:

Makenize – age 7:

Akira – age 9 next Thursday:

Devin – age 10 on Tuesday:

and Cionhiah – age 12:

She wants them to know that their parents love them and will never stop praying for them and fighting for them.

Shoars children meme we will never forget

6 of the Shoars children. Photo provided by the family.

Refusal to Take Controversial Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) Test Used Against Parents

In the early days of the investigation into Khloe’s death, Tabitha and Jeff were asked to take a Computer Voice Stress Analysis (CVSA) test. Their attorneys at the time advised them not to comply. This refusal was taken as “evidence” of their guilt. The Termination of Parental Rights document states that it:

“constitutes circumstantial evidence that corroborates the fact that they had knowledge that “Rico” was an unqualified care giver….”

As Arizona State Representative Kelly Townsend pointed out in the latest legislative session, the CVSA or “truth test” has only a 15% accuracy rate (Source.) She presented an amendment to an Arizona bill, SB1003, that ultimately was signed into law which states that, once the law goes into effect, CVSA results will not be admissible in court.

There were findings in the most recent court report to terminate their parental rights which had already been demonstrated to be false, and that have previously been established as being unsubstantiated and/or hearsay.

Tabitha, who represented herself pro se in the hearings, stated that all of the allegations in this hearing were the same ones that were part of the earlier proceedings, the same ones which were dismissed in 2016.

From what she could see, Assistant Attorney General Bonnie Platter most likely composed the TPR court report because everything in it was in the previous report from the prior hearings, which Platter wrote.

Attorneys who represented the Shoars in the previous case reportedly testified in court that this case is about “retaliation.”

Tabitha reports that Nevada social workers testified to the Arizona court that they found the Shoars to be good parents who were not guilty of allegations they were accused of.

Attorney General Cancels Goodbye Visit with Children

When Tabitha and Jeff received the news that their parental rights have been terminated, Arizona DCS told them that they were scheduled for one final visitation with their children next week. They were told that they were welcome to bring the baby to the visit to see her siblings one last time.

The Shoars had no intention of bringing the baby into Arizona, which they have been warned would risk her being seized by DCS. However, they anticipated seeing their other children one last time. Bonnie Platter had written that they should not mention to the children that this was their last visit.

However, on Wednesday evening, Platter informed them that, because so many people on social media were talking about the case, their final visit is now cancelled.

Jeff and Tabitha are now simply hoping that their children will be allowed to call them. Tabitha says that their home, which was once so full of laughter and joy, is too quiet. They have cried many tears since receiving the news that their children are not coming home.

According to the TPR report, DCS case manager Corey Wolters testified that the children are all either currently in “adoptive placements” or are “adoptable.”

How You Can Help

The Shoars are planning to appeal the case.

The Facebook page set up by supporters at the beginning of their ordeal is still there, and people are welcome to encourage and support the family at Freedom and Justice for the Shoars Family.

Shoars family FB page

Greg McKay is the Director of DCS/CPS in Arizona. His office may be reached at 1-602-255-2500.

Governor Doug Ducey can be reached by phone or email here.

See our other coverage of the Shoars family ordeal:

Arizona Court Issues Gag Order on Family of 7, Detective Wants to Subpoena Interview on Radio

Arizona Judges Continue to Threaten Parents and Restrict Free Speech

Arizona Family Terrified – Foster Parents Taking Their Children to Mexico Against Their Will