Worried dad spies on mom, wins custody of son

Published January 13, 2007

ODESSA -The man wanted to see his baby son. He thought the mother was neglecting the boy. He staked out her apartment one night, authorities said, and after nearly 12 hours he found the proof.

She went to jail.

And he got their son - at least for now.

Here's how it happened, according to sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin and a deputy's affidavit:

The boy's parents are separated. She has a new boyfriend, and he and the father are not friends.

The father was not identified because of state law protecting people who report child abuse.

He had recently offered to watch the 1-year-old, but they told him to stay away.

Then the father had an idea. About 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, he and a female friend drove up to the mother's apartment at 1640 Villa Capri Circle. He kept watch all night. The boyfriend left about 1 a.m. Wednesday. He did not take the child. The mother left around 4. She didn't have the boy, either.

The father went to the window and listened. He heard crying.

And he called the law.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies arrested the mother, Ivis Ferreira, 20, at 6:17 a.m. She was charged with child neglect, a felony. She said she was supposed to work a 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. shift at FedEx in Tampa, and with travel time she would have left the baby alone in a locked apartment for about three hours.

She was booked at the Land O'Lakes jail and went free later that day on $10,000 bail.

Authorities gave the father custody of the boy pending an inquiry by child protective investigators.

"He obviously had great concern for his son's well-being," Tobin said. "In this case, there was a happy ending."

When a reporter called Ferreira's number Thursday afternoon, a man answered. He gave Ferreira the phone. But as the reporter spoke to her, he got back on the line.

"You guys don't have anything serious to write about?" he said, directing the reporter's attention to al-Qaida and the war in Iraq. "Come on. Get serious."

Silence, then a dial tone.

Thomas Lake can be reached at tlake@sptimes.com or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245.