Crime

Mother of Amber Alert kidnap victim wanted sole custody, but judge ordered joint care

Court documents reveal a bitter child custody battle between 2-year-old John Weir’s parents, Steven and Sarah Weir, before his father allegedly abducted him over the weekend, sparking an Amber Alert search.

Two bodies were found Monday inside a car connected to the Amber Alert, which was canceled. Authorities suspect the bodies are that of John and Steven, although the Tuolumne County Coroner’s Office on Tuesday had yet to confirm the cause of death.

Tuolumne County authorities haven’t released new information on the alleged abduction and bodies found in Steven Weir’s vehicle.

Sarah Weir told the Sun-Star on Tuesday that she wasn’t ready to discuss the tragedy publicly.

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The Merced County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the alleged abduction on Sept. 21, 2019, of 2-year-old John Weir, pictured in this undated photo. John was believed to be with his father, 32-year-old Atwater resident Steven Weir. Courtesy Sarah Weir

Both parents fought for sole custody of the child. Sarah Weir’s petition noted that John had missed a medical appointment. But both petitions were denied.

The couple was ordered to seek a resolution through mediation.

The recommendation was for both parents to share custody of John through the week, according to a report filed in court.

At that time, Steven Weir lived in Atwater while Sarah Weir lived in Visalia. So the couple was ordered to exchange John at the McDonald’s restaurant near the Herndon Avenue-Highway 99 exit in Fresno.

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The Merced County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the alleged Sept. 21, 2019, abduction of 2-year-old John Weir, pictured in this undated photo with mother Sarah Weir. John was believed to be with his father, 32-year-old Atwater resident Steven Weir. Courtesy Sarah Weir

The recommendations also ordered the parents to communicate with each other on any medical appointments John needed.

Court documents outline a series of disagreements and issues, including an incident June 29 in which Steven Weir refused to hand the child over to his grandmother.

Steven Weir also challenged allegations that he caused his son to miss a medical appointment, saying “I rescued my son from her. I have gone very far out of my way to get John’s medical needs taken care of.”

In an email exchange on July 6, Sarah Weir questioned her estranged husband about a “large knot on (the child’s) head.”

The father said, “He’ll be fine, just give him more tylenol (sic) in a few hours if you feel he needs it.”

The couple was supposed to meet on Oct. 1 for further mediation.

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Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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