PITTSFIELD — A city woman has been charged with kidnapping for allegedly helping her son flee from Berkshire Medical Center with his legs still recovering from gunshot wounds and without painkillers or antibiotics.
Cassie Stapleberg, 38, also is accused of threatening a Department of Children and Families caseworker through social media.
Stapleberg, through her attorney, Jennifer Tyne, said the son, 17, left the hospital against medical advice on his own. She called the kidnapping charge, "overkill."
Judge William Rota disagreed and said, based on the evidence presented so far, the state had an "outstanding" case to back up that charge.
Stapleberg's son, who was in custody of DCF, was wounded in the legs by gunshots on May 1, according to court documents.
While he was being treated at the hospital, Stapleberg allegedly engineered his escape, helping him to the ground floor via an elevator, where he ran out the door and into a waiting SUV, investigators said.
Stapleberg, who did not leave with the teen, was heard yelling at her son to "go!"
Tyne said Stapleberg's remarks were misinterpreted and she was yelling for security to go after her son and stop him from leaving.
Stapleberg allegedly told security they were leaving to, "get back at the ones who did this," according to court records.
DCF reported the boy missing on May 2 and Stapleberg allegedly told the Department of Youth Services, which was also involved in the search, that he was somewhere in upstate New York.
Hospital staff told investigators there was concern over the child's well-being — he left before receiving a second round of antibiotics and without a prescription for painkillers. He also was told not to put pressure on his legs, but left the hospital running.
Stapleberg allegedly refused to cooperate with investigators and declined to tell them where her son was.
He was eventually located in Massachusetts and received treatment for his injuries, including surgery, according to court files.
Shortly after that, Stapleberg allegedly made a threatening Facebook post against a DCF worker in her case, which included a photo of the worker and his minor daughter.
Tyne said there was no direct evidence Stapleberg made the post and may not have had access to a phone or computer to do so at the time the post was made.
She said Stapleberg has no violent criminal history and would abide by whatever conditions of release the court would impose, including GPS monitoring.
Tyne also expressed frustration that her client was being held and prosecuted while investigators had yet to arrest and charge the person who allegedly shot Stapleberg's son.
Rota ordered Stapleberg held as dangerous for up to 120 days and gave her a pretrial hearing date of June 21.
In addition to the intimidation and kidnapping charges, Stapleberg has an open case on a charge of disorderly conduct.
That charge was incurred in January when Stapleberg allegedly became disruptive when DCF and police tried to remove her six children from her home.
Charges of reckless endangerment of a child in that case were dismissed by Rota earlier this year.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.