Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

Part 3: Fighting Back Through Legal Channels to Find A Missing Baby

September 01, 2021 Attorney Billie Tarascio Season 3 Episode 3
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
Part 3: Fighting Back Through Legal Channels to Find A Missing Baby
Show Notes Transcript

In this 3rd episode of the special series on Missing Baby William, we hear from some of the main family members involved in the case, and what family law attorney Billie Tarascio can do to ferret out more information to find baby William Gouchenour.

By this time, during a typical hot Arizona summer, weeks and weeks have passed with no real news on the missing baby. Meanwhile police are combing through barns in Montana trying to determine if the baby's father Jake or another of his family members has hidden or kidnapped the young mother and her child. The family - and the websleuths - are anxious for any new information to develop.

But when Jake's mom and aunt discover something weird being done by Maddie's mother, their suspicions that someone is lying become all too clear.

The Baby William Series #3: Fighting Back Through Legal Channels To Find A Missing Baby

[00:00:00] Billie Tarascio: Hello, and welcome to the modern divorced podcast. I'm your host, Billie Tarascio. I'm the owner of Modern Law, a family law firm in the Phoenix area. I've been a divorce attorney for more than 15 years. I've got four kiddos and I'm divorced myself. And on this podcast, we're going to cover everything related to divorce.

Be it legal issues, financial issues, children issues, blended family issues, counseling mediation, and more. I hope you enjoyed the podcast. 

[00:00:30] Nancy Conrad: Hey, it's Nancy Conrad, back to pick up the story of missing baby William and his mom, Maddie Jones. Now in last episode, we met Destinee Mack who created an unstoppable social media web sleuthing group that had gone to work to ferret out any ideas, anything that could find baby William and his missing mother, Maddie Jones, but Billie Tarascio, the attorney for Jake Gouchenour, wasn't having any of it. She already suspected there was something really fishy going on with the Jones family. She said in our first episode that she didn't believe them and she especially didn't believe it.

When the Joneses reported that Maddie had gone missing to police. 

Right. So I don't know that they had really figured out what the story should be. They did not call the police to report metal and kidnapped and were very careful. They reported that she was missing. So she's an adult. So adults are allowed to leave and they reported her missing to the police officially.

[00:01:36] Billie Tarascio: But then on social media, they began very loudly stating, you know, the abusive husband has done something. We said he was abusive. Now look, what's happened. And of course, if all you hear is, you know what a mom and a baby are gone. After a divorce from a father, they said were abusive. That's a very, um, that's a very believable story.

We've all heard that story. 

[00:02:09] Nancy Conrad: That's kind of the textbook situation. And you have talked about that with people that are planning women that are planning to leave a marriage. This is the most difficult time. 

[00:02:21] Billie Tarascio: Right? I mean, we know that domestic violence is real and that's what. These false allegations, so dangerous.

Nobody wants to get that wrong. And so it's, we often err on the side of protecting the victim and we'll probably should, but you have to fight against false accusations and you have to fighthard. When they called the police. We absolutely knew what was going on. And we filed an emergency change. We filed a motion to change custody on an emergency ex parte basis.

And the judge who knew the story as well as we did, who knew what was going on the same way we did gave Jacob emergency sole custody and issued a warrant to have been William returned. 

[00:03:17] Nancy Conrad: That's a pretty decisive move. 

Isn't it?

[00:03:20] Billie Tarascio: It is. Yeah. And we made sure that the judge who knew this, we knew this family who knew the facts, um, got the petition for the emergency change in custody.

And, and you're right. It's extremely unusual that you would have a judge issue, emergency custody change just based on a few missed visits, but that wasn't what was going on here. And the judge knew it and we knew it, but the public didn't know it and the police didn't know it. And then the meantime. The police are investigating planes, that, that the Gouchenours have done something to Maddie and William.

And in fact, they go to Montana and they knock on doors of family members and they look through barns because they think that the Gouchenours are a suspect in Maddie and William being missing. So we immediately went to the police and we're fully filed our. Competing police report for custodial interference because you can't just call the police.

You have to file a police report. And so, um, Maddie's parents filed a missing persons report. We filed, uh, to charge Maggie with custodial interference and provided the background from family court. But they didn't believe us right away. They didn't want to work with us right away. They didn't give us a lot of information.

They were doing their due diligence to investigate all, all sources. We, we really wanted them to issue an Amber alert. We desperately wanted them to issue an Amber alert and to let people know that there was a missing baby, but the police wouldn't do that. Think or have reason to believe that William was in immediate danger from his mother who was simply a missing person.

[00:05:07] Nancy Conrad: So at this point, Jake's family, namely his mom, Andrea and her sister, Rachel, they decided to take action that came down from Montana to Mesa, Arizona to do what families do when someone's missing. They started by passing out posters at a women's shelter, featuring prominent pictures of Maddie and baby. At this time, the two had been missing a long time.

The police were silent on what was going on and the Joneses. Well, they had kept up a steady pace of blaming Jake and the Gouchenour family for their daughter's alleged kidnapping. But on this day, the two sisters saw something that stopped them in their tracks. While Andrea Gouchenour drove her sister, Rachel turned on her phone to video what they were seeing.

[00:05:57] Rachel Guernsey: We just caught them taking down the missing sister poster .Where'd they go? 

Look for 

[00:06:04] Andrea Gouchenour: They're behind me. So we're brought, they're not moved at the light yet. Oh my gosh. Do you have a video? 

[00:06:12] Rachel Guernsey: I'm still videoing. They just turned.

[00:06:15] Andrea Gouchenour: No they didn't. 

[00:06:16] Rachel Guernsey: Didn't they? 

[00:06:17] Andrea Gouchenour: They're still parked. They're in the same spot. 

[00:06:18] Rachel Guernsey: Oh, I'm moving forward. 

[00:06:20] Andrea Gouchenour: They're moving now.

[00:06:30] Rachel Guernsey: They're down that way. 

[00:06:31] Andrea Gouchenour: Yeah - they're right there.. Come on, come on. 

[00:06:37] Rachel Guernsey: I knew we were going to find them taking down those posters. I just knew. 

[00:06:39] Andrea Gouchenour: Oh my gosh, we gotta get that up online. We have to, 

[00:06:43] Rachel Guernsey: I hope we got the whole thing of them taking it down. At least they were able.. 

[00:06:47] Nancy Conrad: So let's meet Rachel guernsey. Jake's aunt who picks up the story from here.

[00:06:53] Rachel Guernsey: You know, anyone who had information would be able to come forward. And after that, we were coming down and we were passing out flyers and doing rallies and doing candlelight vigils. And, and as much as we could to get information out there, every time we would get any little tidbit of information or had a thought of what about here?

Have you checked over here? You know, we would pass it along to the police. As much information as we had come in, we would pass it along. It very rarely came back to us. Any information. And so for a really long time, we didn't know, are the police believing them or the police thinking that yeah, that Dad it, you know, especially when they started searching our homes and like, like where is this investigation going?

We know what we didn't do it. Like I'm in Montana. My mom's in Montana claim. My mom. No Jake's grandmother helped in the kidnapping. Um, so all these like kind of crazy things, we don't know where the crazy stops being believable because for us it was never believable. Oh yeah. Especially when we had received, you know, we had gotten copies of the police reports from the domestic violence cases in there.

And having read those and seeing like the fact that they were, you know, throwing things and pushing things and crushing phones and, you know, it was, it was from my standpoint, very unhealthy and very unsafe. 

[00:08:10] Nancy Conrad: I forgot to mention that our web sleuths had dug out through public records. Police reports from past year.

Showing when the cops were called to the Jones family home, as there were accounts of domestic violence reported by Roland, Alex Jones involving his wife. 

[00:08:28] Rachel Guernsey: Um, and so to know that under regular circumstances, if you want to call it regular, I don't know if their life has any regular, but under normal everyday circumstances.

That that's the extent that their family goes through. I don't know how far that, that so-called crazy was going to go. You know, so we didn't know. Well, our, our belief was that she was probably hidden somewhere. But we didn't know that, you know, we had absolutely that fear. Like what if do I think that she would intentionally harm them?

I don't know, but do I believe that with her given history that she could rage out of control potentially and do something harmful? Absolutely. I absolutely believe that that was the case with it's the point that it could have killed one or both of them? I had no idea. I 

had no idea. It was a fear that I had, I didn't allow myself to dwell on it too much, but it was definitely one of those things that, that crept up and was always in the back of your mind.

And then we don't know if there are they going to try and come after us. Right because we're making a stand. 

[00:09:34] Nancy Conrad: Well, that's kind of scary, right? I mean, they needed to do something, but even after the video was captured of Cassie and her younger daughter taking down the missing posters, nothing happened. We were getting deep into a hot, hot Arizona summer and there was no news on the case at all.

So I went back to Billie to find out what she could do. And what was your next step at that point? How could you get this case to move forward? Um, what tools did you have in your toolbox? 

[00:10:06] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, so that's a great question. Um, typically we wouldn't have, I mean, typically a family law attorney. Wouldn't be involved at this point, but it was the only tool that we had.

And so, you know, the Gouchenourswanted their own investigation. They weren't waiting for the police who weren't doing anything as far as they knew as far as they could tell. Um, and the police, of course, weren't updating us every, every moment to tell us what was going on, although that eventually did happen. The police did eventually understand that we were allies, that we had information that we could help.

We were all on the same team, but that took a while. So I used the custody case to help do our own investigation. And normally in a family court, you cannot, um, you can't really investigate third parties, but in this particular case, we knew that Maddie wasn't funding this herself. And so we asked the same family court judge for permission to depose, Roland and Cassie, and the grandmother who was also living in the home.

And we asked for permission to subpoena bank records and phone records. The family that Maddie is living in and the family court judge said, absolutely. Yes, you can. 

[00:11:24] Nancy Conrad: Now this is a really interesting pivotal point because otherwise you, there was nothing you had available to you to investigate this and the police weren't making anything.

Public. And we didn't know, you didn't know if the, the Joneses had been looked at or what they were taking in, uh, as, as evidence or, and not only that you didn't necessarily have to keep this information under wraps. At some point, the depositions were shared within a group of people. 

[00:12:02] Billie Tarascio: So it wasn't. So what's interesting is a lawyer must keep the attorney, their, their client's secrets and confidences, any information received from a client it's confidential.

But in this case, the client didn't want this confidential. The client wanted the information shared. And so it's it. I can use my capabilities to investigate, to get information and to give it to the client. And then the client can do whatever they want with that information. So I was able to depose, um, and then the clients of course have access to that deposition and can share it as they see.

[00:12:42] Nancy Conrad: So it was really the Gouchenours that took that information and put it out in a social media group and said, Hey guys, this is what the Joneses are saying about that. That was a very interesting move. And I'm sure it irritated. The Joneses to know, uh, to no end, was there any legal move that they made as a result of that? 

[00:13:03] Billie Tarascio: In the criminal case, many, many, many months later, they got a gag order that prevented me from speaking about the case and probably prevented the Gouchenours from doing the same. But up until that point, there was nothing they could do. They were very, very, very angry, but there was nothing they could do. 

[00:13:21] Nancy Conrad: And it's not surprising. Listen, in on Cassie Jones being asked about her efforts, her family made to find the allegedly kidnapped daughter, Maddie and baby grandson. 

[00:13:30] Billie Tarascio: You posted on Facebook that you were raising money in order to hire a private investigator to help find Madeline.

Um, do you recall that?

[00:13:43] Cassie Jones: I was not raising money, no. But there have been multiple friends that, that are raising money. That's correct. 

[00:13:49] Billie Tarascio: All right. And you posted on Facebook that, um, please help. You said there was no update on Maddie and William. Our hearts are just aching. We cannot eat or sleep. We've hired an amazing private investigator.

He already has several leads. Please help every penny of our money goes to the numerous attorneys we've had to hire. If you do not want to donate through you cares people have been dropping off cash and checks at our home. If only 150 of our friends donated $20, we'd be halfway to reaching our goal. Do you remember that?

[00:14:20] Cassie Jones: Yes. 

[00:14:21] Billie Tarascio: Okay. 

Who's the private investigator. 

[00:14:23] Cassie Jones: Um, back then, we don't remember his name ... We've talked to over a dozen private investigators and the one that we had tried to hire at that time. What's the date on that? 

[00:14:34] Billie Tarascio: June 21. 

[00:14:35] Cassie Jones: Um, yeah, so that one is. The one that we tried to hire and we've tried and tried and tried and tried and tried to track him down.

And we don't, that police took all of his art, his information from our home. 

[00:14:48] Billie Tarascio: Did you pay a private investigator? 

[00:14:51] Cassie Jones: Um, we paid a private investigator in cash as a retainer, um, to start a case. That is correct. 

[00:14:58] Billie Tarascio: Right? How much did you pay them? 

[00:15:00] Cassie Jones: Uh, no idea.

[00:15:04] Billie Tarascio: Roughly? 

[00:15:05] Cassie Jones: Idon't even remember .

[00:15:07] Billie Tarascio: $10,000? 

[00:15:08] Cassie Jones: No, it was, it was only a few hundred dollars because he was just trying to, to look at things and see if he would take the case. And he was going to try to track down some information. That was it. 

[00:15:19] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Did you find this person? 

[00:15:22] Cassie Jones: I have. It was all word of mouth. 

[00:15:25] Billie Tarascio: All right. Okay.

[00:15:29] Cassie Jones: Um, where did you meet 

[00:15:30] Billie Tarascio: this person?

[00:15:31] Cassie Jones: Um, he came into our home.

[00:15:36] Billie Tarascio: What did he tell you about himself? 

[00:15:38] Cassie Jones: He was a former FBI agent. Um, he'd been doing this. He'd been retired for 12 years. 

[00:15:45] Billie Tarascio: Okay.

What did he look like? 

[00:15:51] Cassie Jones: We saw four or five different private investigators. 

[00:15:55] Billie Tarascio: This is the only one you hired. Is that correct? 

[00:15:57] Cassie Jones: No. 

[00:15:58] Billie Tarascio: You hired several. 

[00:15:59] Cassie Jones: We've tried to hire several. 

[00:16:01] Billie Tarascio: How many have you given money to? 

[00:16:03] Cassie Jones: Um, and I don't even remember if we gave him money or not at this point. I mean, this is, I remember offering him money and I don't remember.

I'm not really clear if he took it or not, so. 

[00:16:14] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Well, you said previously that you gave him a few hundred dollars. 

[00:16:18] Cassie Jones: Yes. But I'm not thinking about it. I don't remember him actually taking it. It might've been on the table. 

[00:16:24] Billie Tarascio: Okay. 

[00:16:24] Cassie Jones: So I don't remember for sure. 

[00:16:29] Billie Tarascio: So let me just be very, very very clear. Did you hire a private investigator?

[00:16:35] Cassie Jones: We signed a contract with him 

[00:16:37] Billie Tarascio: Who?

[00:16:38] Cassie Jones: I don't remember who it was. He didn't give us a copy of it. 

[00:16:40] Billie Tarascio: You signed the contract. When?

[00:16:43] Cassie Jones: I have no idea, we've tried to track it down. We've tried to retrace our steps. We all have our notes and everything from that day. Um, and we've talked to several and private investigators.

[00:16:54] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Um, was it prior to June 21st? 

[00:16:58] Cassie Jones: I have no idea. 

[00:16:59] Billie Tarascio: Well, you posted this on June 21st and said, every penny of our money goes to numerous attorneys. We've had to hire. That's correct. We have, we have hired an amazing private investigator. He already has several leads. Please help. That is what you posted on June 20.

[00:17:15] Cassie Jones: Then I guess it was before that, I don't know the exact dates, 

[00:17:20] Nancy Conrad: Cassie wasn't being very helpful. When the deposition appeared on Facebook and Destinee Mack's group and on YouTube, hundreds of people weighed in with opinions on the interview. And then Billie also tried to get details from Cassie's husband Roland Alex Jones about the night Maddie and the baby disappeared. 

[00:17:40] Billie Tarascio: All right.

What did you do that evening? 

[00:17:43] Roland Jones: Um, after I woke up and was a little bit rested, um, I went to a, a Goodwill. And kind of wandered around for a few minutes. 

[00:17:55] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Did you go by yourself? 

[00:17:59] Roland Jones: Um, that I don't believe so. I think I went with Becca and Kelsey that night. 

[00:18:08] Nancy Conrad: Okay. Okay. Becca is one of their daughters and Kelsey is the daughter of a very close friend of theirs.

[00:18:15] Billie Tarascio: I'm sure you've gone over this day quite a few times. 

[00:18:18] Roland Jones: I have, but that doesn't mean that I can be any more sure about something that I wasn't meaning to remember. 

[00:18:24] Billie Tarascio: So what time did you leave to go to Goodwill? 

[00:18:29] Roland Jones: Um, again, it would be totaled, guesswork, so I not sure.

[00:18:36] Billie Tarascio: What was the sundown? 

[00:18:39] Roland Jones: I don't think it was completely dark, but I don't remember what time it was.

[00:18:42] Billie Tarascio: Okay. And you went with Becca and Kelsey, um, who drove?

[00:18:50] Roland Jones: And I drove. 

[00:18:52] Billie Tarascio: Okay. And which car did you take? 

[00:18:54] Roland Jones: I took my car. 

[00:18:56] Billie Tarascio: Which car is that? 

[00:18:57] Roland Jones: That's the Honda. 

[00:19:00] Billie Tarascio: All right. And did you drive Kelsa and bed, Kelsey and Becca with you? 

[00:19:05] Roland Jones: I can't remember. 

[00:19:07] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Which Goodwill did you go to? Where did you drive? 

[00:19:14] Roland Jones: Well, there are about five Goodwills that are within close driving distance of our house..

[00:19:19] Billie Tarascio: Do you go to these often? 

[00:19:20] Roland Jones: Yes. 

[00:19:21] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Do you do this with Kelsey and Becca often? 

[00:19:24] Roland Jones: I have done it with them a fair bit? Yes. 

[00:19:26] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Um, did the three of you leave together at the same time? 

[00:19:29] Roland Jones: I don't even remember. 

[00:19:31] Billie Tarascio: I want you to think about the night and tell me what happen. 

[00:19:39] Roland Jones: I do not remember for sure. 

[00:19:41] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Um, you don't know if you drove with them or without them?

[00:19:45] Roland Jones: I do not know. 

[00:19:46] Billie Tarascio: And you don't remember where you went? 

[00:19:48] Roland Jones: I remember I went to Goodwill. I don't remember which Goodwill. 

[00:19:52] Billie Tarascio: Did you, um, buy anything? 

[00:19:54] Roland Jones: ...are laid out? 

[00:19:56] Billie Tarascio: Did you buy anything? 

[00:19:58] Roland Jones: I can't remember if that was the night that I bought anything or not. So, because I go often.

[00:20:05] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Um, what did you do after that?

[00:20:09] Roland Jones: Went home.

[00:20:09] Billie Tarascio: All right. When you came out of your house after dinner to go to Goodwill, did you notice that all of the cars were there? 

[00:20:18] Roland Jones: I didn't, no, I didn't pay attention. 

[00:20:20] Billie Tarascio: Okay. Okay. So let's see, it's now gotta be. Probably 7:30. I'm guessing. Is that, is that about right? 

[00:20:30] Roland Jones: I, again, I don't know. So I'm not going to ascend to a guessed time.

[00:20:35] Billie Tarascio: I need 

you to help put together that night. So your wife has said dinner was about five 30 and not one left about five 30. Is that, and you told the police that Madeline left about five 30. So can we assume that that's accurate given that you said it. 

[00:20:52] Roland Jones: Uh, we can assume that that's the best knowledge I had at the time.


[00:20:55] Billie Tarascio: Right. And that would have been the morning after. So it's probably pretty accurate then your wife has stated she. 

[00:21:03] Nancy Conrad: So you can see the kind of detail that Billie was trying to extract in the deposition or people are sworn to tell the truth, even if they're not very excited about going through the process.

Cassie was even less excited about the process when her elderly mother Sharon, who live with them at the time of the baby's disappearance was also called into the Modern Law office for a deposition, the Modern Law office manager, Caitlin Lindahl describes what that was like.. Now mind you, this was recorded by Caitlin to the baby William Facebook page of Websleuths the day of the deposition.

And it was, it was definitely not Caitlin's usual day at the office.. 

[00:21:45] Caitlin Lindahl: Uh, Cassie was like really upset about, about anybody being there or them being there. It was just kind of ridiculous, but, um, but, uh, you know, it at one point, um, Sharon, I think that's her name? Uh, she, uh, she was crying quite a bit, uh, from some type of a question that Billie had asked her in the deposition and, and, uh, Cassie, I could tell, like she was getting ready to go, like bust into the end of the deposition.

I had already told her, like, she can't go back in my part of the office. Like we had, we had a lot of conversations and. And so I like, you know, backed up my chair and was just like, no, stop. You can't go back there. And like stood right in front of her. And of course she yells at me about how she's going to call the police.

And I was like, oh, this is awesome. I'm like, no, you can't call the police. She was like, yeah. It's like, Hey bro. Stupid. And so, uh, and so, you know, I kind of went back and was like trying to get Billie a heads up, but like, she's about ready to burst into your deposition. And, and of course, you know, she's calling the police and I'm like, uh, so, um, and, uh, and so she called the police and.

Uh, Mike, Mr. Baker, the attorney, he came out and told her to go to the conference room again. She just didn't want to do that. So, um, so she called the cops and she's telling the cops about how, um, how her mom is held in distress inside of this deposition. Um, and she is being held against her will to try to, uh, And, and the attorneys screaming at her and her mom's notorious for heart attacks and she, and I'm refusing to let her to go in.

And it's just, it was just ridiculous. I was like, and so I literally she's like telling the cop this and I'm just like, no, that's not true at all. I just like scream. It I'm pretty sure the cop or the 911person probably heard it because I was just like, this is just, and to them, you know, she hangs up the phone with the cops, the guy called back, if there's any more problems.

And I was just like, Cassie, you're your mom. Fine. She's in there. Billie's not yelling at her and she is getting upset, but like your attorney's in there, nothing's going to happen to her. There's no way possible. She's like, this is the first time he's even met her and just, she just, wow. Um, the woman first interaction; not my favorite…

[00:24:08] Nancy Conrad: Oh, well, you could kind of tell the Cassie left a big impression on Caitlin and the deposition recordings gave the Websleuths plenty to chew on. And even among the Jones family church supporters, you could, you could feel a kind of shift moving away from Jake, looking like the bad guy to something else entirely going on.

In fact, that's what we'll hear about in the next episode when Andrea Gouchenour or Jake's mom and his aunt, Rachel Guernsey talk about their own detective work in Rachel's Montana basement as they pore over subpoenaed phone and bank records. 

[00:24:44] Billie Tarascio: Thanks so much for listening to the modern divorce podcast. Remember anything you've heard today or anything you read online is not the replacement for obstacle conservation group and attorney, and does not create an attorney-client relationship, even if you called in and spoke to.

You were anonymous and we don't have her details from, you've not become a client with model. However, we would like to speak with you, or you should seek out the advice of legal counsel or counseling or any other expert review. And if you have an idea for a show topic, or you need to speak with an attorney in Arizona, you can reach me at