Melody Bannister arrest Plainfield manhunt U.S. Marshals Service

Melody Bannister. (Courtesy of WXIN.)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) —  A Virginia mother on the run for months with her four children has been arrested in Indiana.

Melody Bannister was taken into custody early Wednesday in Plainfield.

Bannister has been the subject of a nationwide search by the U.S. marshals. She was booked on a warrant out of Stafford County, Virginia, according to the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office.

U.S. Marshals had been conducting a nationwide Hunt for Bannister, who was wanted on a felony charge of violation of a court order, four misdemeanor abduction charges and a misdemeanor count of filing a false police report.

Sources said Bannister was found around 2:30 a.m. at a Speedway gas station on Perry Road, according to a report from Fox 59 in Indianapolis. Her four children were found with her and are in custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Police began investigating Bannister in June after she informed the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia that her children were being abused, allegations that authorities determined to be unfounded.

Bannister then left for vacation with the four kids, alleging she was saving them from sex trafficking by their father and grandfather. In July, a Virginia court cleared the men of those allegations and granted the father custody.

Bannister petitioned an Alabama court for custody of the children, but Alabama courts ordered her to return the children to their father. However, authorities said they had not seen Bannister since then.

In December, police said the children may be in danger.

SCSO Detective, James Wright said, “They are unable to take care of  themselves, they don't have any means to take care of them. Melody doesn't have means."

Bannister had been spotted in states including Alabama, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and Texas.

Investigators said Bannister and the kids were last seen Aug. 20, in Moulton, Alabama.

Since her arrest, she's been held at Hendricks County Jail.

The case was featured on the TV show "LIVE PD: Wanted." The U.S. Marshals Service said tips from viewers helped lead investigators to Bannister.

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