Three involved in Charlotte County missing baby case arrested

Posted at 10:34 PM, Mar 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 22:42:35-04

Three people involved in the case of a missing Charlotte County baby are facing charges.

The baby was found safe on Tuesday in Saint James City with Stephanie Draine and Andrew Hall. Draine and Hall are both charged with interfering with child custody. 

The man who gave Hall and Draine the baby, James Fender, is facing aggravated assault charges in an unrelated case that happened in January.

Eight-week-old Ashlynn Van Orman was missing for two weeks. She was last seen on March 1st when her mother Ashley Van Orman was arrested for driving with a suspended license. Ashlynn was handed off to Fender, who was said to be the baby's stepfather. The baby's grandmother said that's not the case.

After our previous stories on this case aired, many were wondering how baby Ashlynn passed through the hands of a homeless one-time wanted-fugitive, a man with a rapsheet, and another man charged with violent crimes.

The day before Ashlynn was found, a judge signed an arrest warrant for Fender. Fender was wanted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, after deputies said he threatened to stab his former roommate and kill her boyfriend.

I asked the Sheriff's Office why Fender, a man who threatened violence on a couple two months prior, was allowed custody of baby Ashlynn.

"The mother released the baby to Fender," Skip Conroy of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said. He said it's standard protocol for the Sheriff's Office to hand the baby over to whoever the mother says to.


Four in Your Corner asked a retired police chief if this really is protocol.

"They didn't do anything probably wrong," Walt Zalisko said. "It's just common sense that they look into this a little bit further. When you have a situation like this where you know know the actors are involved with drugs and you have an 8-week-old baby, common sense should dictate that you bring in the Department of Children and Family services."

Ashlynn is now in the care of her grandmother.