Harrison County

Father, mother kidnapped their kids so deputies wouldn’t take them away, sheriff says

Two shots fired during standoff, but 3 kids are safe, Harrison County sheriff says

Harrison County Sheriff's Department negotiates an end to tense situation. Video by Tim Isbell/Sun Herald
Up Next
Harrison County Sheriff's Department negotiates an end to tense situation. Video by Tim Isbell/Sun Herald

Investigators arrested a man and a woman on kidnapping charges after a standoff on Firetower Road, which occurred when deputies arrived with a court order to remove three children from their home.

Terry Joseph Ladner, 32, and Tara Elizabeth Waltman, 34, each face three counts of kidnapping.

Sheriff Troy Peterson identified them as the children’s parents, and said both armed themselves with firearms Tuesday and hid the children in an old, converted school bus partially obscured by tall foliage. The bus apparently was set up as living quarters.

“He (Ladner) put a gun to his own head and said he had the kids in the house and we weren’t going to take them,” Peterson said.

The sparsely populated area is just north of Interstate 10, between Cunningham and Lobouy roads.

Peterson said deputies tried to speak to the couple, but Ladner fired one shot and then fired a second shot.

More deputies and investigators went to the scene along with an American Medical Response ambulance crew and members of Harrison County Fire Services. Deputies blocked the road on both sides of the area to keep motorists out of harm’s way.

After the second shot, deputies moved back, and the parents took the children from the bus and into a doublewide mobile home just a few steps away, Peterson said.

Peterson said he didn’t know if Ladner was shooting to scare the deputies or to harm them, but no one was wounded.

“We didn’t fire any rounds,” the sheriff said.

Deputies had made two previous trips to the home to take the children into custody, but had found no one there, the sheriff said.

A negotiator talked to Ladner and Waltman for at least 30 minutes before they agreed to come out, Peterson said.

During negotiations, Ladner’s mother, who was in the mobile home, remained on the phone with a deputy.

After two hours, the children were taken and turned over to family members, the sheriff said.

Several weapons were found in the residence, authorities said.

Peterson said no charges will be filed regarding Ladner’s discharging of a handgun.

Ladner’s mother, who has a pre-existing health problem, was taken to a hospital for a checkup, the sheriff said.

Ladner and Waltman were booked at the Harrison County jail. They each were being held on a $75,000 bond set by Justice Court Judge Diane Ladner.

Peterson said deputies frequently deliver different types of court orders.

“This is something we deal with daily on domestic and child custody issues,” he said. But after it turned into a standoff “for everybody to go home safe, yes, it’s a good day.”

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews