Custody battle may have been motive for missing girl hoax, friend says

Custody battle may have been motive for missing girl hoax, friend says

GRESHAM, Ore. - New information has surfaced about a Gresham mother accused of hiding her 6-year-old daughter in a motel room and then claiming that the girl was missing.

It turns out this may have all been over a custody battle, according to a friend of the family.

Carmen Alexandria Welch was reported missing Saturday afternoon by her mother, Sara Lea Edmond. The woman called 9-1-1 and said her daughter had never showed up at a friend's house as planned.

Police responded in force to begin searching for the girl and the FBI even got involved. Investigators eventually found Carmen safe and sound in a motel room. She was with her mother and police took the woman into custody.

Edmond is facing multiple charges, including first-degree criminal mistreatment and filing a false report. At her arraignment on Monday, she was quiet and calm as the judge ordered her to stay away from her daughter and have no contact with the girl in any way.

Edmond had gained custody of Carmen (pictured below) in 2010 after she and her husband, Marc Welch, were divorced. Court documents show she filed a restraining order against him in 2012 claiming that he hit her.

Miki Hall has known Carmen and her mom for over three years. She said the couple had another custody hearing coming up and that may be why Edmond pulled the hoax.

"Maybe she was thinking if she got sympathy from people if Carmen was missing, maybe that would help," Hall said.

Regardless of the reason, Hall said it will take time for her to trust her friend again. "She's not a bad person," Hall said. "She just made a bad choice."

Edmond is still in custody and has another court date set for April 23.

Carmen is now staying with her father.