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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mook custody denial affirmed

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A state appeals court has ruled against the ex-husband of missing Shelley Mook in the ongoing custody case involving the Mooks' daughter.

An opinion filed Tuesday in Nashville, and signed by Judge Frank G. Clement Jr., affirms the judgement of Circuit Judge Lee Russell and remands the case back to him.

Russell had found that Tyler Mook "was unfit to parent the child and that he posed a substantial risk of harm to the child due to his history of domestic violence and the danger from exposure to the father's drug activities and the father's associates," according to the appeals court opinion.

Child's home

The child is living with her materal grandmother, Debbie Sikora, who relocated to Pennsylvania. Tyler Mook and his parents, Jim and Kim Mook, had appealed the Circuit Court ruling which granted custody to Sikora.

Shelley Mook disappeared in early 2011.

Authorities have said that Tyler Mook is considered a "person of interest" in the disappearance.

Restraining order

Last month, a temporary restraining order was signed against Mook by Russell. The order prevents Tyler Mook and his parents from having any contact with the child, who has been the focus of a custody dispute since Shelley vanished.

Affidavits from Sikora and a counselor claimed that the child said there was talk with Tyler and Kim Mook about burning down Sikora's home in Pennsylvania, with the result being that the girl would then live with her father.

The child's statements were also corroborated by a Pennsylvania DCS worker, court documents stated. The restraining order was filed against Tyler, Kim and Jim Mook.

Appeals judge's view

"The trial court made numerous, specific factual findings based upon which the court concluded that the evidence clearly and convincingly demonstrated there was a substantial risk of harm to [the child] should she remain in Father's custody," states Clement's ruling.

"... We agree with the trial court's determination that it is in [the child's] best interest to reside in a stable home without exposure to illegal activity, domestic violence, and the risk of physical or emotional harm. Ms. Sikora has established that she can provide a stable home. The paternal grandparents, who offered themselves as an alternative to Ms. Sikora ... could provide a stable and safe home for [the child] if they were not in complete denial of Father's drug use and activities, the bad elements he regularly associates with, and his violent conduct. Therefore, it is not in [the child's] best interest for the paternal grandparents to be the primary residential parents instead of Ms. Sikora."

Russell backed

The appeals court found "no abuse of discretion with the trial court's custody determinations."

The court also said that the act cited by the Mooks in objection to Sikora relocating to Pennsylvania "does not apply to this case."

"We find no error in the trial court allowing [the child] to reside with Ms. Sikora in ... Pennsylvania, the inconvenience to the Mooks notwithstanding."

The appeals court also denied the Mooks their request to recover attorney's fees.

Background

Shelly Mook was last seen on the afternoon of Feb. 28, 2011, at Tyler's home outside Shelbyville as she dropped off their daughter. Her burned car was found that night near Murfreesboro.

A $20,000 reward remains in effect for information in the case. Call the Bedford County Sheriff's Department, (931) 684-3232, or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, (800) TBI-FIND.

--Reporting by Brian Mosely contributed to this story.