Mom jailed in kidnapping

By Jason B. Grosky and Jason Tait
Eagle-Tribune Writers
Wednesday, July 3, 2002

HAVERHILL -- For seven hours yesterday, Paul Hammer lived a nightmare -- his 4-year-old son had been abducted from day care and could not be found.

Nicholas M. Hammer was kidnapped by his biological mother from the day-care center at First Church of Christ next to Bradford Common, according to reports received by police from workers at the day care.

Four-year-old Nicholas Hammer gazes at his dad, Paul. Yesterday, according to police, the boy was kidnapped from day care by his biological mother, who had him for about seven hours. Hammer said the afternoon was the scariest of his life. Late last night the ordeal was over. Nicholas was tucked into bed and sleeping in the home of his father, who has custody of his son. The boy's mother -- Edie Parker, 41, 39 Jackson St. -- was behind bars and charged with kidnapping of a minor by a relative. She remained locked up overnight at the Haverhill police station and was scheduled to be arraigned in Haverhill District Court today.

"I served in a combat zone for a year, and I've never been through anything this scary in my life," said Hammer, a Marine who saw duty in Beirut in 1982 and 1983.

After receiving a report of the kidnapping, police investigated for seven hours and arrested Parker at 7:20 p.m. at her home after she drove up to the apartment.

The boy was taken from the day-care center after Parker forced her way past two teachers and grabbed him, said police and workers at the center. Tricia M. McNeil, director at Bradford Children's Center on Church Street, said she was in her office shortly after noontime and heard a teacher yell for her. When she came into the hallway, Parker was holding the boy and walking toward the exit. McNeil was walking beside her talking with her when Parker started running for the parking lot and got in a car.

A parent tried blocking the driveway, but the car swerved past and onto the street, speeding away. Parker, who was in the passenger seat, was being driven by a friend, McNeil said.

"It was pretty scary," McNeil said. "He's an awesome father, and he loves (his son) to all extremes."

Police were watching Parker's Jackson Street apartment yesterday afternoon and into the evening. When she showed up, probably to get something from the apartment, police arrested her without incident and took the boy from the car and returned him to his father.

"I think they did an outstanding job finding my son," Hammer said of the police.

After feeding and comforting his son last night, Hammer put him to bed.

"Honest to God, I thought I'd never see him again," Hammer said, describing the emotional ups and downs he experienced yesterday. "I explained to him he cannot see Mommy anymore for awhile. He was a little upset because he did not understand what was going on."

Police said the friend who was driving the car when Parker took the boy will not be charged because the case is being considered strictly a parental kidnapping.

After speaking with police yesterday before his son was found, Hammer reached out to The Eagle-Tribune in hopes of finding the boy. He offered a description of Nicholas, who is 41 inches tall and weighs 38 pounds

The incident comes about one week after a judge suspended Parker's right to visit the boy, Hammer said. He said he has full custody, under orders in Salem Probate and Family Court.

Hammer said he and Parker had Nicholas out of wedlock and that they split up after a few months. Hammer lives with his son on Old Ferry Road.

Before Nicholas was found, a frightened Hammer talked with uncertainty about where his child might have been taken.

"I'm just concerned I'm not going to find him," said Hammer, as he wept yesterday afternoon. "They could be in New York by now. Knowing (Parker) they could be anywhere. ... He's only 4, and I'm just scared they're not going to find him. .... He must be scared to death.''

Police said the charge is a misdemeanor. Kidnapping involving a relative was changed from a more serious felony charge some time ago, police said. They said the charge does become a felony if the victim is taken across state lines.

A high-profile child kidnapping case with Haverhill ties gained national attention during the last two years. In Haverhill District Court last month, Brian J. Meuse, 39, 115 Oxford Ave., was found innocent of kidnapping his 17-month-old daughter, Marissa Meuse, from Florida where she was living with her mother, Susan B. Pane. After six months on the run with the toddler, he was arrested in Oklahoma in April 2001 after two women identified him from a wanted poster in a Wal-mart.

The case attracted national attention because of a campaign run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Meuse, a machinist, also drew support from the fathers' rights movement. Members picketed in front of a Lawrence courthouse to send the message that courts are biased against men in custody fights. At one point during his six-month odyssey, Meuse appeared on national TV saying he had enough money to sustain his fugitive existence.

Meuse insists he broke no law and had his daughter's best interests in mind by taking her out of the state for medical attention. A jury decided in his favor and he is now fighting for custody of his daughter.

Correspondent Stephen Tait also contributed to this story.

Copyrightę 2002 Eagle-Tribune Publishing.