Cruelty has no boundaries, no depth, no form.
When it’s practiced by somebody who doesn’t care concerning the penalties of their actions, cruelty can proceed previous the purpose of understanding. Within the age of social media and smartphone connectivity, weak individuals, like the type who undertake infants, too typically should depend on the perceived kindness of strangers to satisfy their goals.
Cruelty may be hidden behind the clicks of a keyboard.
Even the regulation appears ill-equipped when the offense, with out bodily damage or financial damages, is merely being merciless.
Cruelty simply is. Like air.
Matt and Laura Trayte, a couple from Southern California, are reeling as we speak after a months-long encounter with a lady named Elizabeth Jones of Virginia who promised – with none point out of cost – they might undertake her new child child, a woman the Traytes determined to call Noella.
“This is a case of pure psychological torture,” stated Matt Trayte, 40, a constitution faculty English instructor. “It is an emotional crime.”
When Laura Trayte flew to Nickelsville in November to finalize plans for the adoption, Elizabeth Jones wore unicorn leggings for his or her preliminary assembly, posed for footage, let Laura contact her stomach and gave Laura a stuffed unicorn with a recording she stated was the child’s heartbeat.
Elizabeth Jones gave Laura Trayte a stuffed unicorn with a recording she stated was the infant’s heartbeat. (Photograph by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Traytes gave the Southern California Information Group transcripts of 6,907 textual content messages between Laura and Elizabeth (444 printed pages) that learn like a Shakespearean tragedy, filled with pleasure, worry and pathos. They offered a replica of a “Durable Power of Attorney” settlement signed in entrance of a notary and witnesses that outlined the phrases of the adoption.
Jones, 34, a former part-time cake decorator and adorned Military veteran, refused to speak on the telephone. However she answered a collection of questions on her life over a number of hours of Fb direct messages.
“I was never trying to be cruel or mean ever,” Jones wrote. “Just trying to move on with my life. Finish school, take care of my kids and do what I have to do to move past all this. You have no idea what I have been through in my life and never will.”
A few of her solutions, nevertheless, have been much more surprising than could possibly be anticipated.
After what occurred on the morning of Nov. 29, one unusual query, in a bizarre case filled with questions, now has a solution.
The issue with unicorns is that they don’t exist.
Change of plans
Within the final week of November, the Traytes, together with their 6-year-old son Hudson, traveled from their Lake Forest house to Virginia to welcome Noella into the world.
Within the days earlier than the start, they toured Indian Path Group Hospital and Holston Valley Medical Middle (the place Jones had current medical appointments) and met the nurses who would attend to the child.
Jones lived in Nickelsville, Virginia, however the child can be born throughout the border in Kingsport, Tennessee. The Traytes stayed in an AirBnB in Kingsport.
Jones’ labor was scheduled to be induced on the morning of Nov. 29. She stated she was advised to verify in at Indian Path at 9:30 a.m.
(Courtesy of Trayte household)
However at 6:52 a.m. Laura Trayte acquired a Fb message from Jones: “Oh dear gosh. The pain is unreal.”
For the subsequent two-plus hours, Jones despatched Laura messages about how a lot she harm, and the way this wasn’t simply regular childbirth ache (she had given delivery to 2 older youngsters). She stated she was fearful she may die.
She despatched Laura footage of a bloody rest room and bloody blankets for example the emergency.
At 9 a.m. Jones’ message stated she had referred to as a “life saving crew” to move her to the hospital, and that her husband, Brian, can be following the ambulance in their Jeep Wrangler.
The Traytes raced to Indian Path Hospital in order that they might be there when Jones arrived.
Jones, nevertheless, didn’t await the ambulance. She despatched a textual content (she began speaking by way of smartphone) saying that she was in the passenger seat of the Jeep whereas her husband drove.
Laura Trayte stated she referred to as Jones they usually have been each respiration collectively, brief, uneven breaths, on the telephone. Laura was teaching her by means of labor.
The drama was simply starting.
“Oh dear gosh. The pain is unreal.”
Her husband, Jones stated, was on the interstate when he noticed an ambulance. Brian acquired in entrance of the ambulance, placed on his flashing lights, stopped the Jeep and ran to the ambulance to elucidate his spouse was having a child, Jones stated in messages to SCNG.
“We’re ditching the car we are both in the ambulance,” Jones wrote to Laura Trayte. “Baby is ready to come out. I am fully dilated and her head is right there. I gotta push.”
Then instantly, a change of plan. Jones texted that the ambulance was now en path to Holston Valley Medical Middle the place they’ve a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that may deal with a untimely child. Noella was being born at 33 weeks.
The Traytes raced out of Indian Path and head to Holston Valley. The hospitals are solely three miles aside. As soon as inside HVMC, the Traytes alerted the docs and nurses. A group was assembled, they usually waited with an incubator. The NICU is on the second flooring of the hospital.
“I’m sorry I have to push her out. I can’t keep her in any longer,” Jones wrote.
The delivery was occurring in the ambulance. She described blood and ache. A lot ache.
“Yes yes yes. Her head is out,” Jones texted. “I gotta push again.”
“Oh my god we have a baby omg,” Jones wrote.
Laura, 41, was raised in a household of six youngsters in Hudson, New Hampshire. She has an equivalent twin sister, Lynn.
“I always knew I wanted a family,” she stated.
Matt was raised in Hudson, Ohio.
They met in grad faculty on the College of Phoenix in Costa Mesa, the place they have been each learning to be academics. Laura remembers approaching Matt.
“I think we’re both in the same program,” she stated to him. “It’s the first time I ever made a move on a guy.”
They have been married in 2008. Matt had proposed with a track, “I Wanna Grow Old With You” from the film “The Wedding Singer.”
They determined to start out having youngsters. The primary, if he was a boy, can be named Hudson, after the cities the place they have been each raised.
Having a child proved to be troublesome. There have been two miscarriages and three rounds of unsuccessful in vitro fertilization. After three years of making an attempt, Laura lastly received pregnant.
Hudson was born July 17, 2012.
Laura, an elementary faculty instructor, ultimately turned a group mother. Matt turned a youth sports activities coach.
They weren’t glad. They needed a much bigger household. They tried two extra rounds of IVF.
“Fertility became my life,” Laura stated.
“We wanted Hudson to have a sibling,” Matt stated. “The idea that you have someone always has your back is important to us.”
When each nature and science weren’t working, they determined to undertake.
First try goes incorrect
The Traytes determined to make use of Angel Adoptions, a advertising firm in Illinois, to assist them discover a start mom. The worth tag for his or her providers: $16,000. They borrowed from Laura’s mother and father and her sister after which got here up with the remaining based mostly largely on the proceeds from a fund-raising yard sale.
In April, they have been launched to a lady from South Carolina.
Matt and Laura Trayte believed they have been adopting a child from a lady in Virginia. They flew there to witness the start, solely to seek out out that the start mom wasn’t pregnant. They got here residence with no child. (Photograph by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The Traytes found that adoption is never clear, and all the time a scary proposition.
The lady in South Carolina advised them she was the sufferer of home violence. She had gotten pregnant by a person who wasn’t her boyfriend. She had to enter hiding, she advised them. She moved in with kinfolk in New Jersey.
Undaunted, Laura Trayte deliberate to fly to New Jersey to finalize the small print of the adoption.
“We were really excited,” Matt stated. “Hudson was running around the house saying, ‘I’m getting a baby brother.’”
That’s when the start mom stopped taking their calls.
The Traytes stated Angel Adoptions knowledgeable them they don’t cope with start moms in New Jersey and another states. They stated they wouldn’t sanction the Trayte’s adoption.
So Laura didn’t get on the aircraft. Once they lastly heard from the start mom, she stated she determined not to surrender the infant. She despatched them a smiling image of a new child boy.
“We were devastated,” Matt stated.
“Hopeless,” Laura stated.
The Traytes have filed a grievance asking Angel Adoptions for his or her a refund. Thus far, they haven’t been profitable.
Delivery mom thriller
Laura determined to do that adoption factor on her personal.
She created an internet web page referred to as “A Sibling for Hudson” and she or he wrote a publish on Fb about how they have been a pleasant household on the lookout for a start mom. She paid Fb $15 to spice up her submit to a wider viewers.
Within the second week of September, three potential start moms contacted her.
One was from Jacksonville and had a boyfriend in jail.
One was from New York and had been impregnated by a boyfriend who dedicated suicide.
The third was Elizabeth Jones.
They selected Jones.
Laura Trayte captured this picture of Elizabeth Jones throughout a go to on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (Courtesy of Trayte household)
What they didn’t know on the time was that Jones was on probation after a conviction for bank card fraud in 2017. She informed the Traytes she was an Military veteran, a former cake decorator and an internet scholar with American Army College.
SCNG verified that Jones, then Elizabeth Ann Crouse, served in the Military from 2005 by means of 2011, deployed twice to Afghanistan and acquired a number of medals for her service.
“I struggle so bad with anxiety and panic disorder so it’s hard to cope some days,” Jones wrote in the Fb message session with SCNG. “I take medication for it, but it’s still …”
She stopped mid-sentence. Throughout her Fb message session with SCNG, Jones stated she needed to be referred to as “Beth” when the Traytes knew her solely as Elizabeth.
She informed the Traytes she turned pregnant in April. She and her husband needed to surrender the child as a result of they couldn’t afford to boost a 3rd youngster.
“We never planned to add another baby to our family,” Jones wrote. “Adoption seemed like the best route. I was super excited that I had finally found a family. One that was down to earth, nice, shared many values I did.”
From Sept. 13 via Nov. 29, Jones and Laura Trayte communicated a number of occasions per day, typically a number of occasions per hour. They exchanged concepts about being pregnant, child-rearing, breastfeeding and ache. They even shared about probably the most private particulars, and joked about their messages as TMI (an excessive amount of info).
They referred to the pending youngster as “baby girl.”
Jones needed to be concerned in each determination the Traytes made. She requested concerning the decorations for the brand new child’s room, about what the identify can be, about who would come to Virginia to witness the start, about how the infant can be acquired among the many Traytes’ prolonged household.
Laura Trayte stored reassuring her this may be an open adoption and Jones would grow to be a part of the household.
Again and again, Jones pumped Laura Trayte with pleasure concerning the coming adoption.
Oct. 2: “Your day is coming. Bows, makeup, dressed (sic), pink everything, it’s amazing.”
Oct. 5: “Do your friends and the other moms know that you all are adopting baby girl?”
Oct. 7: “Your (sic) gonna be such a good momma to baby girl.”
Oct. 13: “Have you all worked on baby girl’s room any?”
One other Oct. 13: “… just think in 3.5 months God is going to be there with us when you hold your daughter for the first time, kiss her little head and just awww her in pure joy.”
The Traytes began to really feel actually assured concerning the adoption when Jones despatched three footage of ultrasounds. Certainly one of them had a date of 2012, however Jones advised them that was only a mistake by the nurse.
By no means requested for cash
Laura Trayte flew to Virginia on Nov. 9 to satisfy Elizabeth Jones in individual.
“I’m totally wearing unicorn leggings to meet you,” Jones wrote.
Jones drove to Trayte’s lodge.
“We talked for hours and hours,” Trayte stated. “She was anxious and nervous. She was very, very insecure.”
Trayte chalked it as much as Jones feeling understandably responsible about giving up her child.
They shopped for child garments collectively. They ate meals collectively. They posed for footage with shirts that stated “Birth Mom Strong” and “Adoptive Mom Strong.”
Trayte touched Jones’ stomach.
“It was amazing meeting you,” Trayte wrote at 2:41 a.m. on Nov. 10, after she first met Jones. “So happy to be here! Sleep well you two!”
They went to the regulation workplaces of Jared Williams, an adoption lawyer Trayte discovered by means of a Google search. Coincidentally, Williams knew Jones. He had helped Jones cope with parking violations in years previous.
Williams and two ladies who work in his workplace witnessed Trayte and Jones signal a “Durable Power of Attorney” settlement outlining that the Traytes would have the correct to make well being care selections for Jones and her child as soon as the infant was born.
Williams didn’t cost Trayte for the service. He gave her a replica of the settlement, so she might present individuals on the hospital when the time got here to take the child.
Trayte additionally accompanied Jones to a physician appointment. She needed to ask the physician many questions. Simply because the appointment started, Jones requested Trayte to go to the foyer and get her a bottle of water. Then the room of the appointment was modified. Trayte couldn’t discover the place the appointment was happening. Trayte by no means met the physician.
There have been a number of pink flags Trayte now acknowledges that would have stopped the method.
However she stored pushing forward. The truth that Jones had not requested them for cash made her credible.
“She doesn’t want anything from us,” stated Trayte, who returned house Nov. 13. “She never asked us for a penny.”
Absolutely clothed in the ER
The Traytes flew in for the start over the past week of November.
They took Hudson to satisfy Jones’ two youngsters. They went to dinner and watched films. Every thing was on schedule.
“She struck me as a little nervous,” Matt stated.
However what delivery mom isn’t?
Elizabeth Jones despatched this ultrasound picture to the Trayte household on Sept. 27, 2018. (Courtesy of Trayte household)
After which, on the morning of Nov. 29 … chaos.
Bloody footage. Rhythmic respiration. Ambulance. Jones stated the child was delivered en path to the hospital.
“We were bawling,” Laura stated in anticipation of assembly her new daughter.
When the Traytes lastly noticed Jones, she was sitting in the emergency room of the Holston Valley Medical Middle. One thing was unusual.
She was absolutely clothed. How had she simply given delivery if she was absolutely clothed? An ER nurse informed the Traytes that Jones was being handled for again ache.
There was no child. No blood. No labor. No ambulance. No roadside supply.
When the hospital caseworker questioned Jones about what was happening, Jones stated she had by no means met the Traytes. The case supervisor and a hospital spokeswoman refused to touch upon the incident, citing privateness legal guidelines.
“How could you do this to my family?” Laura remembers saying by means of her tears. “She stared at me with dead eyes. There was no remorse.”
Matt was crying. He remembers yelling at her. “What am I supposed to tell my son? How could you lie to us? How could you lie to our 6-year-old?”
Matt stated he went in the parking zone and noticed Jones’ Jeep Wrangler, which she had advised them that they had ditched on the roadside once they received in the ambulance. Neither Laura nor Matt ever noticed Jones’ husband Brian.
At 1:47 p.m on Nov. 29, Jones despatched Laura Trayte a Fb message: “… As for baby girl I wanted to tell you. I was so happy for you all but the pregnancy just didn’t work out. We lost the baby about two weeks ago. I was scared and hurt and devastated. I’m sorry I know I should have told you but I didn’t know what to do or say. I’m so sorry and I know you hate me more than anything. I don’t blame you at all.”
Then 4 minutes later: “… I will be glad to provide you with a death certificate if you would like and pictures of the dead body.”
Catfish state of affairs?
The Traytes referred to as the Scott County Sheriff’s Division to report a crime.
They have been dissatisfied with the response.
Investigator Sam Cassell spoke by telephone with SCNG. He suggested the Traytes to get a lawyer and go to courtroom to hunt justice.
“There was no money exchanged,” Cassell stated. “It will be more a civil thing.”
Cassell and Rachel Townsend, one other investigator, questioned Jones.
“She said she lost the baby,” Cassell stated. “I’m puzzled. I don’t know if it was a catfish situation. I don’t know if she (Jones) got positive attention.”
“She stared at me with dead eyes. There was no remorse.”
The Scott County Sheriffs referred the case to the Virginia Division of Social Providers. The DSS investigator didn’t return requires remark.
Lawyer Jared Williams, who signed the adoption settlement, wrote the Traytes two emails this week. The Traytes had requested that Williams remark for this story.
However he wrote: “Our managing partner would prefer that I not comment (sic) this matter. I hope you understand. Still heartbroken for your family.” Within the second e-mail, he wrote: “Laura, I absolutely do not want her to be able to do this to anyone else.”
Within the first week after the confrontation on the hospital, Elizabeth Jones has given 4 totally different explanations about what occurred.
First she informed the Traytes that she misplaced the infant “about two weeks ago.” On Fb, she posted she misplaced the infant 13 weeks after conception. She advised the investigators that she misplaced the child in June (earlier than she related with the Traytes).
However her final rationalization was her most merciless.
This week in her Fb messages to SCNG, she stated the infant was nonetheless alive and that she may nonetheless think about permitting the Traytes to undertake her. Jones stated that on Nov. 29, the ambulance took the child to Niswonger Youngsters’s Hospital about 20 minutes away. The infant continues to be in the NICU, she stated.
“I wouldn’t say I have really changed my mind on them,” Jones wrote. “I just have to know without a doubt what’s best. I’m not even sure what’s best.”
SCNG requested her to supply a delivery certificates or any medical paperwork from Niswonger. She didn’t produce any paperwork.
‘What was her motive?’
The Traytes are again in their Lake Forest house. They stated they shut the door to the room they created for Noella.
They’ve had a number of tearful conversations this week. They know there isn’t any child.
“What was her motive?” Laura requested. “It wasn’t money. It seemed like she wanted to see us in the most emotional pain possible. She should get mental help. What else is she capable of?”
The Traytes have talked to the district lawyer’s workplace in Scott County, Virginia. To date, there are not any felony fees. They want to speak with a personal lawyer, however they will’t afford to rent somebody.
They’ve determined to cease making an attempt to increase their household.
“I don’t think we ever want to try again to adopt,” Matt stated.