Jennifer and Steve had a weird relationship. Mostly because Jennifer Skinner's idea of the perfect marriage was Steven and his daughter Alex in their own home and her and Sidney living in her grandparents home (where her mother and father also live) and they (Jennifer, Steven, Alex and Sidney) could "have dinner a few times per week."
Fifteen months after their marriage, Steve and Jennifer separated and Sidney became the center of a bitter divorce and custody battle.
November 25, 2008 Steve Watkins arrived at the home of Shirley and Kenneth Skinner (Jennifer's grandparents) to pick up his daughter Sidney for his visitation. He arrived at 5:30PM and 20 minutes later was dead. Shot twice in the back of the head.
Shirley Skinner has been charged and convicted in the murder of Steve Watkins and is serving a 70-year sentence. Jennifer Watkins retained custody of Sidney. Dale and Penny Watkins (Steve's parents) have custody of his oldest daughter Alex and have been awarded visitation priveleges of Sidney.
Well, that was until Jennifer skipped town and disappeared.
On March 1, 2011 an arrest warrant was issued to jail Jennifer Watkins indefinitely until she complies with the visitation awarded to Steve's parents, Dale and Penny Watkins.
On March 2, 2011 the Illinois House Committe passed the Steve Watkins Memorial Bill.
To read a comprehensive story on this case go here.
I suppose the Steve Watkins story is truly the worst case scenario in a custody battle situation. If you take the time to read the whole story you will be amazed at the truly heinous actions of Jennifer Watkins. You will shake your head with disgust that this woman has been allowed to retain custody of her daughter. You will wonder how many thousands of dollars of therapy might help little Sidney when she is old enough to understand the actions her mother and her mother's family took to keep her away from her father. And you will wonder if the right woman is in jail for the murder of Steve Watkins.
But, there is a bright star in this sad story. In Illinois if a parent choses to not abide by the court ordered visitation schedule there are two ways to try and enforce the court order.
1. Criminal Court. The victim (the person not receiving the visitation) reports the violation to the States Attorney and they prosecute. The first two violations result in a fine and the third violation makes it a Class A misdemeanor which heresay shows police departments refuse to enforce because they consider it a petty crime.
2. Civil Court. The victim files a contempt case against the abuser of the visitation priveleges. Remedies for visitation abuse are outlined in 750 ILCS 5/607.1 and currently include a modification of the visitation order, supervised visitation, make up visitation, counseling, or other appropriate relief as deemed equitable.