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Forestdale 8 found safe in Pennsylvania

Police arrested Nephra Payne Sr. (far l.) and Shanel Nadal (far r.) in Pennsylvania for illegally taking their children and fleeing the state. Photos courtesy NYPD
TimesLedger Newspapers

The eight children who were abducted by the parents from a Forest Hills foster care center last week were found safe and sound along with their fugitive parents in Pennsylvania Monday night, police said.

The NYPD is awaiting the extradition of Shanel Nadal, 28, and her boyfriend Nephra Payne, 34, from Harrisburg, Pa., where they were discovered after a nearly weeklong manhunt. Nadal, who lived with Payne in Harlem, illegally took her children, whose ages range from 11 months to 11 years old, during a supervised visit at the Forestdale foster care center at 4 p.m. Sept. 19.

The children — 11-month old daughter Nefertiti Payne and seven sons, who were all named after their father Nephra Payne: Nephra, 11; Nephra Ceo, 10; Nephra John, 9; Nephra Rahsul, 6; Nephra Shalee, 6; Nephra Umeek, 5; and Nephra Yahmen, 4— were in the care of Harrisburg’s Administration for Children’s Services in good condition, according to the New York Administration for Children’s Services.

“Specially trained staff from ACS will bring the children home to New York City. The children will be examined by medical personnel and we will ensure that they receive all necessary counseling to address any trauma that they may have experienced,” an ACS spokesman said in a statement.

The pair were scheduled to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on several charges, including kidnapping and custodial interference, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Administrators at Forestdale, at 67-35 112th St., refused to talk following the rescue. But they defended their security measures shortly after the kidnapping occurred.

Anstiss Agnew, the executive director of Forestdale, said she and her staff were cooperating with the ACS and the police in the investigation as to how this happened in a secure facility. Although most of Forestdale’s compound is out in the open with a grassy lawn, outdoor tables and chairs and a playground, the facility has several security cameras and keycards are needed to access areas.

“This woman had a plan and she was desperate to be reunited with her children,” Agnew said.

Agnew said Nadal and the children were all outside, but the mother asked to go inside and get them soda from a vending machine. After she went inside, however, she allegedly escaped through a back entrance, according to the executive director.

Police contend that Nephra Payne Sr. helped the mother get away and drove her and the children in a black van, which was spotted in Harrisburg by the police Monday night.

The children were removed from Nadal’s care and placed in three foster homes in Jamaica for an undisclosed reason, according to ACS,. One of the foster parents, Barbara Emanuel, said Nadal had sent her a text the day before the abduction that read, “I can’t live without my kids.”

Emanuel and the other foster parents could not be reached for comment by press time.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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