Minneapolis stowaway still in custody; 2nd round of tests ordered

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 20, 2013 - 9:01 PM

The boy slipped onto a Las Vegas flight, unticketed and unattended.

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The father of 9-year-old plane stowaway, his face covered in a hoodie and hat to ensure his anonymity, talked to media members, sometimes through sobs, as he was accompanied by MAD DADS V.J. Smith, right, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The 9-year-old Minneapolis boy who hopped a flight from the Twin Cities to Las Vegas last month won’t return to his home yet.

In a five-minute hearing Wednesday morning on a child protection petition, Judge Joseph Klein, Hennepin County human services officials and attorneys for the boy, his mother and father all agreed that it would be best for the boy to remain in outside custody while a second psychological and neurological assessment is made.

“The child is making some progress in his placement,” Assistant Hennepin County Senior Attorney Cory Carlson told Klein.

The next hearing will be Dec. 20.

The child wasn’t in the courtroom, but his attorney objected to an assessment performed on the boy, prompting the second evaluations. Separate attorneys for the parents also told Klein on Wednesday that they are following case plans.

Last month, the court ordered individual and family therapy while the mother and father receive parenting training and evaluations. Both parents are allowed to visit and call their son.

The boy’s mother, who has legal custody, is also working with his school to have him assessed for special education services.

“She’s done everything that has been asked of her,” said attorney Bob Paule, who represented the boy’s mother. “This has been a very difficult time for her with her son out of the home.”

The protection petition said the boy had been suspended from school because of aggressive behavior. He also had a history of leaving home without telling his parents where he was going.

Klein has also ordered a “kinship study,” an evaluation of relatives, neighbors and other significant figures in the boy’s life as possible future guardians — a standard procedure when there is an out-of-home placement.

In early October, the 9-year-old flew from the Twin Cities to Las Vegas without a ticket, slipping past Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport security and a Delta Air Lines gate agent. He was detained in Las Vegas and later returned to the Twin Cities. The implausible trip triggered a major security investigation at the airport and drew international attention.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

Twitter: @kellystrib

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