A Pine Bluff man was taken into custody by officers with the Pine Bluff Police Department on Tuesday and charged with interfering with child custody after he allegedly took his son away from the child’s grandmother, prompting an approximately five-hour search for the pair by police.
PBPD Detective Steven Rucker said in a probable-cause affidavit that Justin Austin, 24, took a child he claimed was his away from the care of Austin’s mother after the two adults got into an argument. Rucker said that officers were dispatched to a residence in the 2600 block of Kenwood Drive at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in reference to a child custody case. Rucker said that Austin’s mother told officers that the child’s biological mother — who has legal custody of the child — had dropped him off on her way to work. Rucker said that the child’s mother told officers that she did not know that Austin was at the residence when she dropped her son off.
Rucker said that officers were told that Austin told his mother that the child could not stay there and that the child needed to be taken to another relative’s house. Rucker said that an argument ensued that allegedly led to Austin threatening to burn down his mother’s house if his wishes were not honored.
Rucker said that Austin then allegedly carried the child out of the residence and left on foot which prompted officers to carry out a search that went on until approximately noon when the two were found and Austin was arrested.
Rucker said the child, who was unharmed, was reunited with the biological mother.
On Thursday, Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth set a $25,000 bond for Austin after ruling that prosecutors had probable cause to charge him with interfering with child custody.
Austin asked for additional time to hire his own attorney and was told to return to court Aug. 27.