Three men have been jailed on felony charges after police said they helped five children escape from a Westmoreland County foster home Wednesday.
Joseph William Sickler, 41, of Pittsburgh, Erik Sean-Michael Spaziani, 18, of Charleroi, and Jacques Johns Jr., 18, of Uniontown, were arraigned today on five counts each of interfering with the custody of a child, conspiracy and concealing the whereabouts of a child. No attorneys were listed for the men in online court records.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Stefani Plume said five girls — ages 1, 7, 11, 12 and 17 — willingly got into a vehicle about 1:30 a.m. with the men, who at least one of the girls knows. The infant is the daughter of the 17-year-old, the trooper said in a press release.
The girls had “willingly made arrangements” for the men to pick them up at their new foster home in Latrobe, Trooper Plume said. The girls are in Washington County Children and Youth Services custody but were placed in the Westmoreland County foster home.
The eight drove around most of the night, going as far as Cumberland, Md., before stopping on Lenox Street in Uniontown, where some of them have family and friends, police wrote in a criminal complaint.
Later that day, three of the children surrendered at the Uniontown police station after realizing they had been reported missing, Trooper Plume said.
Police believe one of the suspects is the boyfriend of the oldest child, according to Trooper Stephen Limani of the Greensburg barracks, though he didn’t say which one. The girls apparently were unhappy about being placed in foster care, he said.
Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Tuesday.
Associated Press contributed. Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1944.