BRADENTON -- The father of two of Janiya Thomas' siblings wants custody of his children, he said Tuesday after a hearing on possibly removing all four siblings from the mother's custody.
Reggie Adams, father of Janiya's 10- and 12-year-old siblings, appeared in court regarding their being sheltered by the Florida Department of Child and Families, along with Janiya's other siblings.
After the hearing, Adams said the surviving children are doing OK. Asked if he has had concerns over the years, Adams replied, "Of course I've had."
Adams would not elaborate on those concerns.
"The only thing I am interested in right now is the well-being of my kids," he said.
The dependency hearing for the four children was continued until Nov. 24, because DCF officials said they would be filing a different petition and needed time to investigate all related issues.
The mother, Keishanna Thomas, 31, was first brought before a judge on Oct. 16 for refusing to tell investigators with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigative Division of Janiya's whereabouts. Investigators had come to the Thomas home in the Village at Cortez Apartments, 488 51st St. W., Bradenton, to remove all five of her children as part of a child-abuse case involving her 12-year-old son.
Late Oct. 18, law enforcement was called to the home of a family member who had discovered a dead body. On Monday, officials confirmed it was Janiya's body inside a freezer. Janiya's mother and a boyfriend, yet to be identified by police, brought the freezer to the home under the guise she was being evicted.
During Tuesday's hearing, Thomas' attorney attempted to waive her appearance before Circuit Judge Scott Brownell for a dependency petition arraignment hearing -- required to be held within 30 days of children being removed from a home during which a parent must enter a plea of admitting, denying or consenting to the petition's allegations. Brownell said it was not an option, and ordered Thomas to enter the courtroom.
Adams will also be ordered to appear at the next dependency hearing on Nov. 24.
He would not comment on other aspects of the case.
"Nobody can judge this whole situation, not even the courts or the judge, God has final say so," Adams said. "Only God can deal with this."
Thomas remains in the Manatee County jail on bonds totaling $200,000, on charges of child abuse, aggravated child abuse and abuse of a dead body.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.