Friday July 20, 2012
PITTSFIELD -- Michael Hodges is hopeful and determined to get his daughter back from his estranged girlfriend.
The 25-year-old city man has spent the past two weeks searching for 3-year-old Alexis Hodges, who he claims was taken by her mother, Amanda Babcock, prior to a court's decision that awarded him full custody.
"My daughter is not safe with her mother," Hodges said in an Eagle interview Thursday afternoon. "My daughter is everything to me -- she's my life.
Hodges indicated he's fearful because he believes the mother has developed an ad diction to painkillers.
On Wednesday, Pitts field police issued an advisory seeking the whereabouts of Alexis, her mother and her mother's boyfriend, Jeffrey Kucka, 20, of Pittsfield.
Authorities believed they remain in the Berkshires be cause of their ties to the area. Babcock, 25, is a native of Williamstown, but also has relatives in Colorado, according to Hodges.
"Amanda has an aunt in Eagle, Colo., and I've heard she may be there," he said.
City police had said they hadn't corroborated information that the trio headed west.
On Thursday, Capt. John Mullin reported detectives were still trying to locate the youngster.
Alexis, Babcock and Kucka, are believed to be traveling in Kucka's green 1996 Jeep Cherokee Sport, bearing Massachusetts registration 588-EE3.
Hodges says the rift between him and Babcock began in June 2011, when they split up, but agreed on their own to share custody of Alexis.
Hodges, citing Babcock's unstable personal life, eventually sought full legal custody of his daughter, and a hearing was scheduled for June in Berkshire Probate and Family.
Hodges says Babcock didn't appear for the hearing, but they maintained shared custody until July 6, when he last saw his daughter.
In a Family and Probate Court hearing on July 12, Hodges was awarded full custody. Hodges said he suspects that Babcock didn't attend that hearing either fearing that she would lose custody.
Hodges said that finding Alexis, who celebrated her third birthday on June 20, is about giving her a stable home life.
"Alexis is a perfectly healthy little girl just torn by this situation," he said.
The case is not being treated as a kidnapping since no formal contact between the court and Babcock has been made alerting her she is no longer Amanda's custodian.
Police say anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Alexis Hodges, Babcock and Kucka should call the department at (413) 448-9700.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.