I was pretty stunned when my good friend Amalio Madueño told me about the case of Melissa Alvarado, her custody battle with the State of Nebraska, and that state’s condemnation of reference letters from Melissa’s poet friends, saying the word of poets is not credible! Astounding. Here is my latest Facebook update on the case of a woman who has to prove the claims of convicted felons and drug addicts wrong about her own drug use and parenting. And see below the well-detailed letter from her faith community pointing out the details of this custody nightmare. If everyone on this list donates $16, Melissa and Maximo will have all the funds they need to move back to California, re-structure their lives and start to make poetry out of this ordeal.
Only one day and we’ve gotten to 5% of our goal for Melissa Alvarado in her battle against the State of Nebraska. A poet active in the Southern California lit community and Beyond Baroque, she was stunned when Nebraska rejected letters of reference if they CAME FROM POETS! Can you donate $10 to the cause? This campaign is over April 7. Please consider:https://life.indiegogo.com/fundra…/melissa-maximo/x/10261533
March 2, 2015
Ms. Dawn Schulz
Foster Care Review Office
Dear Ms. Schulz:
We have been asked by Melissa Alvarado to share our viewpoint on the situation of Maximo Alvarado’s custody. We will respond to the first question on the parent questionnaire, “Describe why your child is in care”.
We are interested in this situation because Melissa, Max’s mother, came to our church, Trinity Episcopal in Norfolk, last July, to seek assistance. A bit about us: The Rev. Robert W. Schlismann is Rector (Priest) at Trinity Episcopal Church, Norfolk, and is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson Mississippi, and the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Carol Schlismann has been a Registered Nurse since 1978, and holds a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. We have lived in Norfolk since 2011.
Last July, we brought Melissa from our church to our home, and she told us a story about her situation that seemed at best unlikely, and at worst, utterly incredible. We offered hospitality to Melissa and she lived with us for two to three months. Melissa explained to us how she came to be in Norfolk, and lost custody of her son. According to Melissa, her mother, Mary Hand Moler Cubillos Shaw, and her sister, Mollie Moler Reitz, had been caring for Melissa’s son Max due Melissa being severely ill, and Melissa came to Nebraska from her home in California to retrieve Max. Public records reveal that her family has a history of problems with drugs, drug convictions, and violence; Melissa had little to do with her family for the past ten years, but had to turn to them after she became severely ill with sepsis and MRSA early last year, after having had back surgery in California.
Melissa’s story didn’t add up, in our opinion, so Carol used her research skills to debunk it. Surprisingly, the documentation found supports Melissa’s story. So if you can please indulge us, we’ll tell the story based on the documentation we have (appendices to this letter and attached to this email). We decided to help Melissa, and try to get her help with her custody problem. Melissa lived in our home for several months, until she was required by the State of Nebraska to establish a home of her own here, although she and Max are residents of California. I have appended a copy of Melissa’s lease in California to this letter.
While she lived with us, Melissa was picked up almost every morning for visitation with Max. After visitation in the afternoon, Melissa was at our home nearly every evening, so we became well-acquainted. She is a good guest and we enjoyed having her. We did not see any evidence of drug use, however we did observe that Melissa was anxious, was mildly depressed at times, was distracted and distractable, and she clearly was unable to work as a pharmacist, because she needs prompts to keep on task for complex multi-step tasks. As a worried mother, Melissa acted about the same as one would expect. Melissa is always welcome in our home, she has become acquainted with our daughters, and we have done what we could to be a support to her.
WHAT WE DISCOVERED
Melissa comes from a troubled family. Her mother, Mary Hand Moler Cubillos Shaw, was an LPN at one time, but her license was revoked in 2001 due to a drug conviction. In 2006, Mrs. Shaw, then Mrs. Cubillos, was convicted of conspiracy to traffic 9.8 pounds of methamphetamine here in Norfolk. She was sentenced to prison, and her daughter, Mollie, was also convicted as a member of the conspiracy. Melissa’s sister Mollie subsequently offered a story to federal authorities about Madison County Attorney Joe Smith that resulted in Mr. Smith’s phone being tapped by the FBI for seven months. Mollie’s story was not substantiated; Mr. Smith was never indicted.
These actions of Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Reitz do relate to how Melissa lost custody of Max. Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Reitz contacted the state abuse hotline repeatedly to complain about Melissa’s unfitness as a mother. This was during the time that Melissa was not in Nebraska, but very ill in California, when the family was asked to assist by caring for Max. Due to Melissa’s avoidance of her mother and sister, and the distance from California to Nebraska, the two complainants had never seen Melissa and Max together.
Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Reitz made the following claims to the hotline:
- They claimed that Melissa is a methamphetamine addict
- They claimed that Melissa resided with her sister Mollie (that they had witnessed Melissa’s drug involvement)
- They claimed that Melissa had come to Nebraska from California to receive drug treatment
- They claimed to be afraid of Melissa
We contend that the State of Nebraska did not investigate carefully to properly judge these claims.
In accordance with DHHS policy, the repeated hotline report resulted in State Police involvement with Melissa, and the police intended to arrest her for methamphetamine use. Melissa was detained by the State Patrol and drug tested when she arrived in Norfolk. Later, she was told that the hotline complaints against her were expected to result in her arrest on drug charges. She was released when the drug test, after mass spectrometry, revealed that Melissa although she did take prescription amphetamine (Adderall) prescribed by her physician in California, she tested negative for methamphetamine. She was never charged for any drug offense. Melissa has requested at least four drug tests plus a hair test to our knowledge since being in Norfolk, which have all substantiated that she takes Adderall but not methamphetamine. We have copies of drug test results.
Melissa was preparing to return to California with Max (see appended airline ticket information) with Max when she unfortunately decided to visit Mrs. Shaw’s apartment. Mrs. Shaw invited Melissa to come and pick up some of Max’s things. Mrs. Shaw and her husband, Larry Shaw, assaulted Melissa when she wanted to end the visit, and the Norfolk Police were called; Max was placed in emergency foster care.
Melissa was advised by her court-appointed attorney to plead no contest to Max’s placement. Truly, Melissa preferred foster care to the risk that her mother and sister would be named custodians for Max, which some state workers wanted. Despite cooperating with all the hoops she’s been asked to jump through, including establishing a home in Nebraska though she and Max are residents of California, Melissa can’t regain custody.
Melissa has been with Max almost every day for nearly a year, many hours of which were supervised by DHHS workers, yet our state hasn’t seen enough. No hazard to Max has been alleged by the state.
OUR OPINION ON THE ABOVE
The State of Nebraska investigator did a poor job of investigating complaints tendered by Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Reitz. The DHHS’s own license lookup website verifies that Mrs. Shaw (then Mrs. Moler) lost her LPN license due to a drug conviction. Couldn’t DHHS use its own information to check the complainant? If you Google “Mollie Moler of Norfolk Nebraska” you’ll see a great deal of disturbing information about Mollie Moler Reitz, Melissa’s sister, and Mary Moler-Cubillos, both of whom are convicted drug traffickers.
Last summer, DHHS case worker Ms. Tereasa Larson visited our home to decide if it was a safe environment for Max to visit with Melissa. Ms. Larson stated to Robert that she thought Melissa’s sister Mollie would be a good option for Max’s custodian. Robert replied, “You think a convicted drug trafficker would make a good foster mother for Max?” Ms. Larson replied, “People can change”.
Mollie Moler’s false statements to federal investigators, after she had been convicted of trafficking 9.8 pounds of methamphetamine, resulted in a federal investigation of Joe Smith, Madison County Attorney. Mr. Smith’s phone was tapped for seven months due to Mollie’s outlandish allegations, which apparently had no basis in fact. This woman was accepted as a reliable source by DHHS when she offered hotline complaints against her sister, who she had never seen interact with her nephew.
We searched for information on Melissa as well. It appears that in court Melissa is depicted as a delusional, narcissistic person who makes grandiose claims, such as that she holds a PhD from Creighton Pharmacy School. Apparently nobody at DHHS checked the State of Nebraska’s DHHS license lookup site. The DHHS website records that Melissa Beery (her name when first married) did indeed graduate from Creighton as a PharmD on May 13, 2006 (appended).
Melissa has been ridiculed by DHHS and Madison County Court personnel because she stated that she’d been President of her class at Creighton and gave an address at her graduation. I have attached the relevant pages from the graduation program, provided by Melissa’s father, Mr. Dan Moler.
Melissa’s Social Security disability determination has been questioned by DHHS personnel. Then DHHS decided that Melissa’s disability caused her to not have the ability to be a good mother. Does being disabled disqualify one from being a parent?
Our state required California resident Melissa to establish a residence in Nebraska for herself and Max, but wouldn’t give her assistance through any program because of Mrs. Reitz’s claims on the DHHS hotline that Melissa lived with her. No DHHS investigator checked this story for veracity, so Melissa is expected to maintain two residences in different states on a small Social Security disability income.
Melissa has been with Max almost every day for nearly a year, many hours of which was supervised by state workers, with no question of Max’s safety, yet our state hasn’t seen enough to determine that they can stop the merry-go-round. We have been unable to identify any criminal history for Melissa.
Thank you for your considerations of our concerns.
Rev. Robert Schlismann
Carol A. Schlismann