Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You

Part 5: The Jig Is UP

September 15, 2021 Attorney Billie Tarascio Season 3 Episode 5
Modern Divorce - The Do-Over For A Better You
Part 5: The Jig Is UP
Show Notes Transcript

In this final episode of the Baby William series, we learn the truth of what happened to missing Baby William and his mother Madeline Jones after a police detective tips off the legal team.  Attorney Billie Tarascio describes that moment, while Andrea Gouchenour talks about how the crime affected her family. The baby's father, Jake Gouchenour, now three years later and happily remarried, reflects on what's next in his life for both him and his son.

Billie Tarascio (00:00:01):

Hello, and welcome to the Modern Divorce 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.

Nancy Conrad (00:00:30):

Hey, we're back with the story of missing baby William and his mother Madeline Jones. I'm going to jump right in to pick up where we left off. It's September 27th, 2017. And we just found out that the baby's grandparents, Roland and Cassie Jones have been arrested at Phoenix sky Harbor airport heading out of town to Texas. Well, what were they doing? Going to Texas? Well, there's rumor and innuendo galore on this, the Facebook page for Williams warriors as they were called, it blew up with bits and pieces about a family member passing away. I think it was a grandfather who had something of an estate that some people thought Cassie was looking to cash in on. We don't know for sure. And it probably doesn't matter at this point because this development was a huge step in the right direction of solving this case. Police believed the grandparents were helping their daughter, Maddie, hide the baby from his father. But where that was the unanswered question

Former Jones Family Supporter (00:01:31):

Baby William and his 19 year old mom had been missing for months, but only now Mesa police is telling us the duo might actually be in hiding and

Jake Gouchenour (00:01:40):

Grandma and grandpa might've helped them disappear. ABC 15th, Jason Valentine, digging into this bizarre case. Jason, very bizarre Steve mom, and both grandparents could be facing charges here. The police report full of details, alleging that the three are trying to keep the little boy away from his biological father. Now we talked to the father on the telephone tonight. He feels like this is a step forward toward finding little William Madeline Jones and her son William went missing in June. The missing persons report called him by Madeline's dad, Roland Jones, Mesa police. Now say in the background of that phone call, there's the faint sound of a baby fussing the baby's father, Jake [inaudible]. Thanks. His ex wife and baby are not simply missing.

Jake Gouchenour (00:02:24):

I haven't got to be a part of his life at all. Um, and I wanted to be here and I'm trying to try to work through the court. And then when I finally ordered visitation and I got a day and a half of parenting time and my wife took off with my son.

Jake Gouchenour (00:02:40):

According to police that Jones is had spent months trying to convince the courts that Jacob was unfit to be a parent

Jake Gouchenour (00:02:46):

Reading that police report and finding out that her parents like were researching ipecac and how to throw up, frankly, alarming,

Reporter (00:02:55):

Madeline and William went missing right after the courts awarded custody. In the days before the disappearance, the police report says Madeline's mom, Cassandra helped arrange for her to dye her hair. The cosmetologists told police that William was dressed up like a girl and Madeline said they were going on vacation. Best not to ask questions at Madeline's parents' house. Nobody answered the door to talk about the potential charges

Jake Gouchenour (00:03:22):

I'm hopeful every day that my son is going to turn up. And this is a huge step in that process. I'm more hopeful than

Jake Gouchenour (00:03:28):

I ever have before.

Reporter (00:03:32):

So as of right now, police are recommending custodial interference charges against Madeline custodial interference and false reporting against both of these grandparents. Meantime, William still missing. If you know anything about his disappearance, go ahead and call Mesa police supporting live in Mesa. I'm Jason Volentine, ABC 15 Arizona. Thank you, Jason. For some of you this

Nancy Conrad (00:03:51):

Well, this development was a huge step in the right direction of solving this case. Police believed the grandparents were helping their daughter, Maddie hide the baby from his father, but where that was the unanswered question. Now at this point, we were seeing pictures of the devout latter day saints, churchgoers, Cassie and Roland, Alex Jones, all over the media, showing them being loaded into a police van. They were dressed in jail attire, real actual stripes, and they were being delivered to the gritty downtown Phoenix fourth avenue jail. By the next day in front of a judge, bond was set at $50,000 each with electronic ankle monitoring a curfew. And in order to have no contact with one another, I mean, imagine the expense and the hassle plus they could not have any contact with the victim. Jake Gouchenour supporters of Jake and the Gouchenour family were over the moon with excitement because it was kind of a told you. So

Reporter (00:04:58):

I was set bond at $6,000 each in court today. Roland Jones said they don't have that kind of money.

Roland Jones (00:05:14):

I'm pretty much broke from all the legal things.

Judge (00:05:18):

Well, if you can't meet the $50,000 bond or go through a bonding company, you'll be staying in custody at least until your next court hearing of October the fifth.

Nancy Conrad (00:05:29):

People in the so-called camp, Cassie group were not happy feeling like they'd been duped.

Former Jones Family Supporter (00:05:35):

You feel, um, a little violated that you've been lied to.

Reporter (00:05:39):

Community members donated nearly $2,000 to a fundraising campaign, started by the Joneses as a way to raise money, to hire a private investigator, to search for the missing mom and baby.

Former Jones Family Supporter (00:05:50):

I did donate because I would want to help someone. And now I'm a little bit like, oh my gosh, what did they use my money for?

Billie Tarascio (00:05:58):

We asked them, what did you do with this money that you claimed publicly, um, that you received and that you were using for private investigators and they, they couldn't answer.

Former Jones Family Supporter (00:06:07):

The wool has been pulled over our eyes. You know, we've been lied to, and it's just unbelievable that people can do this.

Nancy Conrad (00:06:18):

Meantime, as we'd heard from Andrea, Gouchenour, Jake's mom in the last episode, police were now sitting down and talking with a good friend of Cassie, Stacey Baird. Well, Stacy was feeling some heat apparently because she was compelled to meet with Jake's attorney, Billie Tarascio, but she didn't show. And the Mesa police, while they had stayed mostly silent during their ongoing investigation over the summer, they'd been busy building a file that we can now see has nearly 550 pages of material - an encyclopedic collection of copies from texts and lists of items taken from the Jones's home is evidence and shopping receipts. Andrea Gouchenour had a pretty good idea of what was going on. So do you know about Stacy Baird? Have you ever met her?

Andrea Gouchenour (00:07:10):

I know. Um, no, I have not met her. Um, her daughter was pretty active in the Facebook group, um, came to some of our rallies. So I met her daughter in person, um, have heard some things about her since then.

Nancy Conrad (00:07:28):

The daughter didn't know or did she know? So

Andrea Gouchenour (00:07:30):

The daughter said she didn't know. Um, but as we kind of watched the daughter's comments on the Facebook group, she seemed to post things that sounded like maybe she didn't know, but she might've been suspicious that her mom not was involved, but knew more than she was letting onto. And um, and then it just seemed like towards the end that maybe she was aware of her mom, she, I don't think she ever came out and said it, but just the way that she, um, reacted to things made, made it seem like she might have more knowledge towards the end.

Nancy Conrad (00:08:02):

Cassie's good friend, perhaps realizing she had made a big mistake, finally, confesses to driving Madeline out to San Diego, to stay with an elderly great aunt where she dropped the two off. And from there local San Diego police followed up with a, a stakeout of sorts watching Maddy coming and going from the house, but with no sign of the baby. Well, we can only assume that Stacey meant well thinking she was saving an innocent child and a young mother from a bad guy. After all she was told, baby William had suffered terrible illnesses. After the two times he met with his father, the Joneses complained that on Jake's first short meeting in a public room with his son that the baby's feet and socks smelled funny afterward implying that Jake had done something to hurt his son. And as we mentioned in an earlier episode, Cassie swore that the baby had to undergo reconstructive surgery to his penis after meeting with Jake in the same court appointed parenting center where supervised visitation takes place. But the police were able to confirm it was all untrue, lies. All of it. Cassie had given the baby it, the character to vomit repeatedly. So it would seem like Jacob poisoned him. Instead. The poison was really coming from his grandmother. We have to assume that Stacy Baird thinking she was being the dependable friend had second thoughts. And she did the difficult thing of ratting Cassie out to the police. aAttorney. Billie Tarascio picks up the story from here to explain

Billie Tarascio (00:09:44):

…August. And then what the depositions did was they, they swayed the court of public opinion and the court of public opinion included witnesses who were directly involved with hiding Madeline. And these witnesses began to understand that they had chosen the wrong side.

Nancy Conrad (00:10:10):

And you're talking about Stacey Baird

Billie Tarascio (00:10:12):

Talking about Stacey Baird.

Nancy Conrad (00:10:14):

So tell me about that.

Billie Tarascio (00:10:17):

So Stacey Baird is a good friend of Cassandra's and she is the person who came forward and admitted to driving Madeline to San Diego, Madeline and William to San Diego at Cassie's request to get them out of town and away from Jacob. So Stacey Barrett is part of this group and she's understanding, and she seen the deposition videos and she's seeing all the evidence that's been compiled. And she probably understands that there's going to be consequences to her for moving and hiding a mom and a baby. And maybe she wasn't saving a woman from domestic violence. Maybe the Joneses are liars. Things changed very quickly. And I got a call from the detective. My whole law firm happened to be, we were all at a conference in Chicago and we were getting on a plane. We were boarding a Southwest airplane when my cell phone rings. And it's the detective that, uh, you know, and he and I have talked a lot. So we're buddies at this point. So I answered the phone, you know, on the plane boarding it. And he says, we think we found on the baby. And so my whole team, you know, is just where we're so excited. We've spent six months embroiled in this case and are, have been so committed to finding this baby. And we're so

Jake Gouchenour (00:11:51):

Right. News everybody. Great news. The Mesa police just called. They found Maddie and William. Um, Maddie's in custody, William, is with CPS. He's well and safe. Um, they're, they're waiting to give me more details. They're going to run it wrong way to pick them up.

Nancy Conrad (00:12:12):

So that's Jacob making a live announcement to the Facebook group of all these people in Williams warriors group that have worked so hard to put together the pieces. And he made his celebratory announcement about the finding of baby William live on Facebook. And it was an amazing,

Billie Tarascio (00:12:33):

So then things started unfolding. Um, he called back, yep. We've got the baby. He's in California. He's going to be in CPS custody. You guys can come get him. And the Gouchenours are flying in from Montana and I'm flying there from Arizona. And it's a pretty amazing day. Many, many people from the Gallic nurse, big family, and pick up this beautiful little baby boy.

Nancy Conrad (00:13:00):

So Andrea picks it up from there. Yeah. So that was, that was big news. You get to that point in time where we see a picture, you know, and I'm counting myself as the general public and there's a booking photo of Maddy Jones. Um, and she looks like she is not happy that picture, but you get to go to San Diego and, uh, tell me about that. Uh, it wasn't an easy trip, was it?

Andrea Gouchenour (00:13:32):

No, no. So my husband was in Seattle at the time. I can't remember what he was doing out there when we get the news. And so I'm home with all the kids and it was a blizzard in Montana, October the second. And we took off because I booked flights for the very next morning. As soon as we could get flights, we took off to stay the night in the town where the airport was because we were flying out early in the morning and the highway literally got closed behind me cause it was so bad. So I was driving and I was maybe going 15 miles an hour. And I had one child looking at one window and one looking at the other window telling me if I was still on the highway, it was so bad. It was so bad. And I was praying and I said, Lord, you helped us find this baby,

Andrea Gouchenour (00:14:18):

Now I need help getting to them. So, so much pressure, you know, it was awful. So we finally made it to grade balls and then flew out. And then my husband flew down from Seattle and met us there. And I decided that I was flying everybody. I'm like, this is, you know, we kind of just had Jacob go. He could have just had maybe, uh, you know, my husband and I, and Jacob go, but I though, you know we have, we've all suffered through all of this. We all need to be part of the celebration of all of this. And so it was less expensive book tickets with 10 hours notice, but it was so worth it.

Andrea Gouchenour (00:14:56):

Yeah, yeah. That that's, uh, a trip of a lifetime really.

Andrea Gouchenour (00:15:00):

Yeah. And all of us to be there when he, when he came out and just, yeah, that was great. And it was actually really good too because, um, it was nice for our family to start bonding with him and my sister, the one that you visited with Rachel, she's a family therapist and she could give us some good counsel about, you know, that Jacob needs to be his primary bond. And so as much as we all want to kiss him, hug and snuggle on him, you know what she, I guess the idea that she gave us was, um, anything that involves his care. So if it is changing him, if it's bathing him, if it's dressing him, if it's feeding him, those need to be his dad, we can all play with them in love with them and have fun with them. But he needs to learn that his caretaker, you know, his dad and that, that went really well.

Andrea Gouchenour (00:15:44):

The first time this baby can, you know, he's just barely standing. And Jacob went to put a pajama on him, you know, a footie pajamas as feet and arms. And as a mom, I would lay the jammies on the bed and I would stick the baby's arms and feet in and zip it up. Jacob had him standing up and he was trying to put us, put this little barely standing baby in one leg at a time. And it was all I could do to let it just go. I could grab that baby and jammy him so quick, but it was, it was good that she was there to kind of give us that counsel and Jacob filled that role beautifully, you know, to step in and just learn. That's what you're do when you have children - you learn together.

Nancy Conrad (00:16:26):

So you stayed in San Diego and had a celebratory trip to Disneyland.

Andrea Gouchenour (00:16:33):

We did. We went to Disneyland together. We went to the beach together. Um, we just had, it was a wonderful, wonderful trip. It was my, it was my little daughter. She turned 12 years old on the trip. It was, we actually met William on her 12th birthday. Um, so we, we did all that together. It was wonderful. It was really cute. We all came dressed in during the blue that day to pick him up, which had been, come our signature color for finding him and then wheel him out and he's wearing baby blue. It just, he just matched all our pictures. It was just, it was like, it was meant to be

Nancy Conrad (00:17:05):

So we're back to Billie here...

Billie Tarascio (00:17:06):

There were always open to sharing. You know how you normally get confidentiality. They didn't want confidentiality. They wanted to scream the truth from the rooftops to anyone who would listen. And they've been, it's, it's been a rare case that someone will be able to share their lives that way too, to become so open and naked in front of the public and asking for help,

Nancy Conrad (00:17:30):

That must've been really hard for them to do. Particularly in the beginning when their son was being painted as an abuser and somebody who was a weirdo or creep, somebody called him a creep.

Billie Tarascio (00:17:42):

It was an incredibly emotional case. Um, these people's lives have been ripped apart. They had been slandered and then they lost a child and were accused of murdering it. It was incredibly emotional.

Billie Tarascio (00:17:59):

So at that point, now they're in the repair mode, they're in the, okay, baby. William is back with his dad, Jake, and he has custody. Cause you already got that for him . Right? So that was no question. The CPS paperwork was like, okay, this is who the baby goes to. Dad.

Billie Tarascio (00:18:18):

What's really interesting is no one has, Madeline has never tried to modify that order.

Nancy Conrad (00:18:26):

Isn't she barred from doing that though? because of...

Billie Tarascio (00:18:29):

No, she is not, there is nothing that would stop her from asking the family court to have some visitation or her child. And so we, we, Jacob is operating under the temporary custody agreement that we got on the emergency basis. And Madeline has never tried to secret travel.

Billie Tarascio (00:18:47):

So what is Madeline doing? And what was it like when she was taken into custody? So two detectives from the Mesa Arizona department that had worked very hard on this, had gone down to the Los Colinas detention facility in Santee, California, that's near San Diego. And that's where they were able to sit down and interview Madeline. And they had a lot of questions. Madeline said that for the first time Jake met William Jake quote caused him harm and got away with it. That was in the first five minutes of their interview. Madeline, it says, kept rubbing her eyes as if to wipe away tears. However, there were none. Madeline stated she was not intending to leave as long as she did, but she wanted to go to the beach with her son and realized once she got there, that she didn't want to come back, Madeline was then confronted about lying and telling complete truths.

Nancy Conrad (00:19:46):

And she stated, can I start over and promise to tell the truth? This was, this was an hour into the interview with detectives. Um, and then what she did was explained that she had worked with her parents to make plans, to go to California. She stated that both Cassandra and Roland, her parents knew she was going to be staying with her relatives in hiding as long as possible. So by this time they're an hour and a half into this interview and, uh, police had gone back and forth with her. The detectives had gone back and forth with her about what was true and what was not true. I got to a point where, uh, she agreed that she had searched out or disappears. She had searched the statute of limitations that she had dyed her hair that day, uh, in part to change her appearance in the, the detective sound like they're fed up because it gets down to about two, two hours and 18 minutes into the interview.

Nancy Conrad (00:20:46):

Madeline then advise about the facts and what has led up to the case. Cassandra orchestrating Madeline or William, getting to California. Madeline is advised. Cassandra has been incapable of telling the truth the entire time that Maddie and William had been gone and is a manipulator Madeline's countenance does not change as she hears this. And does not say anything in her defense, Madeline nods in agreement that will, we knew about the plan of her taking William to California. Madeline stated Roland knew about everything. And the detective says, I clarified with Madeline that he did nothing to stop it either. And Madeline agreed at one point, the detective asks Madeline what her thoughts are about all of these facts and Madeline states. I'm sorry. You guys have had such a hard time and quote. I just feel really bad. She stated quote, other than today, I've always told the truth. I explained to Madeline that today was the first time I've ever met her and she's lied to me. So my first impression of Madeline is that she is a liar, Madeline states. I know that's really bad. I told Madeline I was very grateful. She and William had been found alive is that was law. Enforcement's ultimate goal. Madeline was advised she had made an adult decision and now needs to face the consequences of her choices.

Jake Gouchenour (00:22:10):

Let me turn my phone up just man. There we go.

Nancy Conrad (00:22:15):

So as we wind this story up, it's only fitting that we sit down and talk to Jake an about how life is going now, the diesel of regular dad living a regular life with his son in Montana.

Jake Gouchenour (00:22:31):

I really learned that even if life is unexpected and crazy and just awful that there are little joys that can be found, there are a little piece, little bits of peace that you can take from the small things. Just trying to find joy in the simple things. Just trying to be grateful for everything that I possibly could. Honestly, that's the only way I could get by, you know, turning to God, praying a lot, trusting in my family, having their support, working together, you know, getting messages from people that they're praying for me. And more and more, I started pouring in people all over the world that was so bolstering to be in such a turmoil state to have such conflict in a way on my soul. And to know that so many people were thinking of me and praying for my son safe return. And that was, that was huge.

Jake Gouchenour (00:23:25):

And then also knowing that we were doing the absolute best that we could with the situation we were, we were devoting every resource, every avenue, you know, working with Billy, um, trying to get some more evidence on the case and figure out what was going on, reaching out to news stations, trying get coverage and, and having it get some coverage and finally pick up the story where people were more aware of it. And more places that really felt encouraging to know that, you know, it's not going to be forgotten. It's not going to be swept under the rug. This is serious and people are paying attention to it. So that helped a lot. But yeah, it was quite a, quite a bit of things just taking it one, one day at a time and even one hour at a time, or sometimes, you know, so,

Nancy Conrad (00:24:12):

So there was a lot of drama at the end with the arrests of the Jones family. Were you surprised about how all this unfolded?

Jake Gouchenour (00:24:20):

Um, I would say I was more surprised as the divorce case was happening because honestly in our marriage it didn't seem that crazy. It didn't seem that wild until things started going south and her family started getting involved and, and then I started getting blamed for stuff and starting getting accused of falsehoods. And, and so as that went on and we saw, wow, they're willing to go to any length to drag me through the mud, willing to go to any length, to turn down my reputation. And, and their whole goal is my demise as that processed and finally settled, which took awhile and a lot of, a lot of beatings. Um, we, it was easier to expect craziness, but it's, it's hard to believe that the lengths that they went to even still, it's just, that's pretty far to kidnap a son. So

Nancy Conrad (00:25:22):

You have a lot of relationship building to do with your son when you were reunited. So how did you navigate that and what was the process like for you? It must've been challenged.

Jake Gouchenour (00:25:34):

Yeah, so he was 13 months old when I was really United with him. And by that point, I'd only spent a couple of days with them. And so he didn't know me at all. And he had this new family too, to get used to, but he adjusted so fast. He, you could tell that he wasn't sad, which was very interesting. You think being separated from his mom, he would be very sad, but he had this tranquility about him. Um, and peace. He wasn't distraught, which was, I think a blessing from God, honestly, to have him so prepared for the transition that it wasn't traumatic on him. I think it was wonderful. And so, yeah, I just spend those next few months learning how to be a single dad and taking care of him. And we grew very close during that time. And, uh, it's just it's since then, it's been years now, but our bond has grown so strong. He's so funny. He's such a, such a character, so yeah, it's fun.

Nancy Conrad (00:26:37):

So how do you deal with this subject with him? Is it, is this something that you've talked about with him at all?

Jake Gouchenour (00:26:44):

Absolutely. We want him to be knowledgeable with his life situation. We don't want it to be taboo. We want to be open and honest with him so that he has the tools to be able to cope with it when, as he matures we'll, you know, we'll share more information with him. Uh, but currently we've talked about how, when he was a baby, he grew in someone else's belly and he was born in Arizona and me, his daddy and Madeline that's whose belly, but he was in, I said, we were working together to spend time with you. And it was her turn to spend time with you. And she took too long of a term. And so now I get to spend time with you all the time and you're my boy, and that's how it's going to be. And it's great cause we're together. And so that's about the extent of it that we've covered so far that he was in a, he grew up in a different belly. He was born in Arizona. She took a long-term and now he's with me and, and asking matures, we'll share some more details with him, but with always in mind, always keeping in mind that he's safe, that he's protected, that he's loved. He doesn't have to worry or be afraid is the goal. So,

Nancy Conrad (00:28:12):

Wow. So there you have it. William is thriving with his dad and as he gets older, like a lot of kids from divorced families navigating parental relationships, it's complicated, right? He'll have the potential to build a relationship with his mom and she'll have the potential to reach out to him. Oh, and one more thing at their sentencing on July 13th in 2018, Cassie entered a plea of guilty on the charges of conspiracy to commit custodial interference, which is a class six felony and a domestic violence offense. The judge at the sentencing admonish, the Jones's saying, I heard a lot about your faith and church, but I don't think lying is part of the Christian value. I've heard a lot of line. He said in closing, they were sentenced each of them to a maximum probation of three years supervised, which is coming to an end July of this year. So that's it for this series on missing baby William I'm, Nancy Conrad. And I want to thank the, in our family, Andrea, Jake, and Rachel Guernsey for taking the time to speak with me as well as Destinee Mack for sharing her time and thoughts. And of course, Billie Tarascio be sure to listen to our regular modern divorce podcast with fresh episodes every Thursday. Thanks for listening.

Billie Tarascio (00:29:41):

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 actual consultation with an attorney and does not create an attorney client relationship, even if you called in and they spoke to you, you were anonymous and we don't have the details and you have not become a client of Modern Law. However, we would love to speak with you, or you should seek out the advice of legal counsel or counseling or any other expert near you. 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