Davenport would later testify that when she discovered that mother and baby were sleeping on the floor of Bail's apartment, she obtained a crib for Carlos. She would also subsequently report that the infant seemed developmentally delayed and physically weak. Because Bail had not obtained a birth certificate for her son, he was ineligible for government-subsidized infant formula; Davenport testified that she used her own money to buy formula.

By the time of her arrest, Bail had moved in with her brother, who also lived in Carthage. Suddenly finding himself responsible for the full-time care of an infant, Carlos' uncle passed along the baby to his sister, who lived in town as well. Not long after that, Davenport referred the aunt to a young couple she knew, Jennifer and Oswaldo Velazco, who offered to babysit Carlos for free. The Velazcos belonged to a local evangelical Christian church, where they were both ordained as pastors.

(Carlos' peregrinations are traced in various court records; unless specifically noted, all information about the case presented in this story has been drawn from judicial findings, court case files and other public documents, including personal correspondence and transcripts of hearings conducted by the Carthage R-9 School District.)

"When they met him it was love at first sight," says Bess Lanyon, a friend of Carlos' adoptive parents. "That little boy lives a wonderful life."
"When they met him it was love at first sight," says Bess Lanyon, a friend of Carlos' adoptive parents. "That little boy lives a wonderful life."
Encarnación Bail lost custody of her son while jailed for immigration violations.
John H. Tucker
Encarnación Bail lost custody of her son while jailed for immigration violations.

Encarnación Bail's relatives seemed to appreciate the Velazcos' gesture — so much so that what began as daily sojourns quickly evolved into weeklong sleepovers: Monday through Friday Carlos lived with the Velazcos; on weekends he lived with the Bails. Sometimes he stayed with the Velazcos straight through the weekend.

Four months after Bail's arrest, in September 2007, the Velazcos introduced the baby to a young couple who lived across town. The Velazcos knew Seth and Melinda Moser through the Mosers' in-laws. Unable to conceive a child together, the Mosers had applied with the state to become foster parents.

On October 5, according to subsequent court testimony, Carlos moved in with the Mosers. A brief Encarnación Bail's attorneys submitted to the Missouri Supreme Court states that when her brother-in-law arrived at the Velazcos' to pick up Carlos on or about October 6, "Child was not there and the Velazcos told her sister and brother-in-law that the 'government' and 'marshals' took Child."

Days later Bail's relatives received a letter, reproduced here exactly as it would later be included in a Missouri appeals court opinion.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter in regards to [Child]. Who will no longer be in our care or living in our house after 10-7-2007. The couple [Respondents are] pursuing adoption in the case of [Child]. The papers for them to get guardianship of [Child have] already been sent to the family courts of Jasper County by their lawyer. And there is nothing that we can legally do nor can you. The only person that has the chance to do anything is [Mother]. The proper papers have already been sent to [Mother] at the jail. If you wish to know more about this matter you need to be in contact with [Child's Mother]. And we ask that you please no longer contact us in respect to this matter. Because it is out of our hands now.


The Velazco Family

As her infant son made the rounds through Carthage, Encarnación Bail was 90 miles away at the St. Clair County Jail in Osceola, awaiting a plea hearing.

On September 19, 2007, she received a visitor.

Two years later, testimony would reveal that Laura Davenport had requested to see Bail in her professional capacity as a Carthage school district Parents as Teachers staff member and under false pretenses, having told her supervisor only that she was driving to Osceola to bring Bail an application for a birth certificate so that Carlos would be eligible for state-subsidized immunizations and infant formula.

After dropping off the application with jail personnel, Davenport met with Bail. Corrections officials recorded the conversation, which took place in Spanish. An English-language transcript that was later prepared for Carthage school officials and obtained by Riverfront Times reveals that at no point during the hourlong dialogue did Davenport tell Bail anything about a birth certificate.

Instead the school-district employee focused almost entirely on persuading Bail to give up Carlos for adoption.

Click here for a link to the transcript from the St. Clair County Jail.

"The reality is if you take this child to Guatemala he's not going to have a life, no future," Davenport told Bail. "He may or may not have food. He will not get an education, and he will grow up to be a man that doesn't know how to make a living."

"But, what I think, if they do deport me, I want to take my child with me," Bail responded.

"But this is a pretty story that you are thinking so you don't have to [go] back alone," Davenport said. "You're not thinking about the well-being of your son. You're only thinking about yourself."

As the hour wore on, Davenport continued to make her case for adoption, but Bail stood her ground. She explained that she'd been calling her sister every week as the two women attempted to obtain a passport for Carlos so that he could stay with family members in Guatemala until she'd served her sentence and been deported. She asked Davenport to bring her photos of Carlos, explaining, "I feel sad because I haven't seen him." And she asked Davenport to come for another visit and bring Carlos along so she could hug her son.

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