Three held in child-selling case
By Carissa Hebert
A $1,500 parakeet and $175 cash is the alleged price a woman got for two children she sold to a couple who live near Eunice.
Glenmora Officer Jennifer Potter was uncertain what she had when she first got hints of the case but her instincts told her something was wrong.
Her intuition led her to Eunice Detectives Mike Perry and Robert Brickley, Jr.
They in turn contacted Evangeline Parish Chief of Detectives Keith Dupre with the information suggesting two children had been sold to an Evangeline Parish couple. They also believed the children were possibly being abused.
As a result of the subsequent investigation, Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, and Paul J. Romero, 46, both of 5296 Eunice/Basile Highway were charged this week with aggravated kidnapping with bonds initially set at $100,000 each. Subsequently the bonds were reduced to $95,000, which they posted.
Donna Louise Greenwell, 51 of Pitkin was also charged with kidnapping and remains in the Evangeline jail under $100,000 cash bond.
According to Dupre, he met Perry, Brickley and Potter last Saturday and a surveillance of the suspects led officers to McDonald’s in Eunice, where they observed the children. Dupre said the children appeared to be happy and well taken care of at the time they were under surveillance.
The officers approached the couple. Brandy Romero told them she had been contacted by Greenweel about a parakeet Romero had for sale. Their conversation allegedly led them to children and Greenwell learned the couple had been married for approximately 10 years and remained childless.
Dupre said Greenwell allegedly told them she was raising two children and couldn’t handle them. She allegedly said she would sell them for a price the Romeros could not afford. An arrangement was made for the parakeet, which was being sold for $1,500, and $175 in cash for the two children, a four-year-old girl and five-year-old boy who are now in custody of the state.
Dupre said sheriff’s offices in Rapides, Allen and Vernon Parishes were contacted as the investigation grew. Greenwell, who has a criminal history dating to 1986 which includes charges of aggravated kidnapping, a sexual offense, theft and burglary, arrived in Ville Platte on Sunday.
He said Greenwell is a truck driver, who delivers cows to other states, and said authorities do not know how wide-spread this case might be.
After the investigation spread to the other departments, it was learned a 17-month-old male half-sibling of the two children was residing with relatives in Allen Parish.
Dupre said he understands that family has begun the process of adopting the child. Authorities are working to identify the biological family of the children and determining if abuse occurred in this case.
None of the officers involved have every worked such a case.
The Eunice officers praised the Glenmora officer for the legwork that led to the investigation and Dupre commended the Eunice offices for recognizing the implications of what Officer Potter had developed.
“It’s something you see in the movies. You don’t expect to see it happen here. It’s definitely a first and a I hope it’s the last. We will do anything to investigate a case involving children,” Brickley said.