Tavey: "I Love Them as if I Gave Birth to Them"
Rhonda Tavey spoke to "Good Morning America's" Bill Weir today while under house arrest in Houston, accused of kidnapping five children, ages 3 to 8, from their 22-year old mother Erica Alphonse. The mother and children were displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
The 44-year-old former Red Cross volunteer reportedly took in the five children and cared for them for three years as Alphonse went back and forth to New Orleans for work.
After the relationship soured, Tavey said Alphonse and her male companion, David Alfred, threatened her and her family at knifepoint, forcing her to flee to Houston with the kids in tow, Tavey recalled.
Alphonse denies having threatened Tavey, and says her children have been kidnapped. After an Amber Alert and subsequent Thursday arrest, Tavey was released on $50,000 bail Friday afternoon -- $10,000 for each child allegedly kidnapped, according to The Associated Press -- and now waits under house arrest for her arraignment. Child Protective Services has given Alphonse custody of her children.
When asked why she left Houston with the Alphonse children, without reporting any threat, Tavey said that she originally did call the authorities. She said of the police: "They couldn't offer much help and with the response that I got from the Precinct Four -- that they had a good ID on both Erica and David Alfred, that if anything happened to the children or I, they knew who to go after."
Tavey said that she thinks that Alphonse wants her children back for money. "FEMA is running out, and she needs welfare and food stamps, and her kids are her tool. That is her crutch," she said.
When asked if she considered herself mother to Alphonse's children, Tavey responded, "No, they call me 'Rho-Rho.' I've never tried to take their mother's spot."
But she added that "for three years I've raised these children like they were my own. I love them as if I gave birth to them and they've had the best three years of their life being with us."
Tavey said the children knew nothing of their flight, but thought that they were on vacation.
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