Crime & Courts

Wichita mom charged with falsely reporting disappearance of daughter to police

A Wichita woman has been charged with a felony after police said she made a false report of her daughter’s disappearance.

Ronetta A. Clement, 34, was charged Wednesday with one felony count of interference with law enforcement. Prosecutors allege in court documents that Clement “unlawfully report(ed) to a law enforcement officer ... information concerning the death, disappearance or potential death or disappearance of a child under the age of 13.”

She remained in the Sedgwick County Jail Wednesday afternoon in lieu of a $25,000 bond with her next court appearance scheduled for July 18.

Wichita police had asked for the public’s help late Sunday night in finding Clement’s daughter, Anyla James. Police originally said the 2-year-old girl may have been in danger after her dad reportedly made homicidal and suicidal comments and refused to return the toddler at a Father’s Day custody exchange.

But investigators based their statements on claims made by the mother, and police later said they had “found conflicting information” and that the girl was no longer believed to be in danger. After about 117 hours of Wichita police work time spent on the case, investigators determined that the dad, Alton James Jr., didn’t say what the mom claimed he did.

Anyla was found safe Monday evening, and Clement was arrested.

Wichita police said Anyla James (left) was reported missing on Sunday. She is with her biological dad, Alton James Jr. (right), and is believed to be in danger. Courtesy photos Wichita Police Department

Police said the girl had been with her dad for several weeks. As of Tuesday, police had not spoken with James, adding that he was likely reluctant to contact law enforcement because he has warrants for his arrest.

Four Wichita Municipal Court warrants were issued for his arrest on May 15, records show.

Sedgwick County Jail records show that James, 28, was arrested March 5 on suspicion of multiple past crimes. They included 2018 cases on domestic battery, criminal damage to property and criminal trespass, 2015 and 2017 cases on contempt of court and a pair of 2019 cases for failure to appear.

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