Metro East woman fights to get her murdered sister's children ba - KMOV.com

Metro East woman fights to get her murdered sister's children back

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Chandra Meeks. Credit: KMOV Chandra Meeks. Credit: KMOV
Photo of Catherine Jackson next to one of her children (Credit: Chandra Meeks) Photo of Catherine Jackson next to one of her children (Credit: Chandra Meeks)

EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) - A Metro East woman who lost her sister in a deadly shooting says she’s now lost the niece and nephew she was taking care of.

Chandra Meeks says she took in her sister’s oldest children a couple of years ago to help as her sister moved around until she transitioned into her new East St. Louis home.  

Last week, police found her sister, 29-year-old Catherine Jackson in her home dead from gunshot wounds. Her 1-year-old son was also inside the home, but unharmed.

“Who would do something like this to her?”, asked Meeks.

Meeks says it wasn’t even a day after her sister’s death when a worker from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services told her they were placing the two children she was care of and another with their biological father.

“You’re going to take these kids from me that’s lived with me all these years and give it to someone who lived two streets behind me and hasn’t seen them in years?” she said.

Meeks claims the dad of the children knew they were living with her at the time, but didn’t visit the children, despite having visiting rights. She says a judge issued the father full custody of the three children last week without allowing her to testify in court.

“I know my sister wouldn’t have wanted this not at all,” said Meeks.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services couldn’t give specific details about the case, but issued the following statement regarding the situation:

It’s the natural preference to give custody or guardianship to the surviving natural parent unless there’s some reason related to the children’s safety that we shouldn’t do that.  There was no such reason in this case.

While Meeks understands the policy, she wishes she would have been given a chance to stay with the children at least until their mother’s funeral.

“They shouldn’t encounter any new changes this time in their life when they just lost their mom,” she said. 

Meeks says she’s spoken with the children’s biological father who told her he wants to be a part of their lives and gave her the option to have them every other weekend.

“If I felt that was the best for the kids and they’re well-being I would just accept it,” she said. “But, it’s not what’s best.”

She’s looking at the options she might have to gain custody of the children but is especially concerned about them as they’re away from what she considers to be their home during this difficult time.

“I hate that they did this to my sister, she didn’t deserve this,” she said. “But justice will be served. Now it’s her kids I’ve got to fight for.” 

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