Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Troubling Disappearance of Air Force Nurse Nonnie Dotson

Custody Issues

In January 2007, despite previous assurances from his attorney that Edward Vehle had no opposition to Nonnie Dotson's parents caring for Savannah Marie, Vehle asked a Texas court to award him custody of his daughter.

A few weeks later Vehle faced off with Nonnie's parents in a San Antonio courtroom. During the hearing, Nonnie's parents allegedly introduced several pieces of evidence, including a birth announcement that Nonnie had sent to Vehle on which he had allegedly written "bastard child" before mailing it back to her. Following testimony by both sides, District Judge Karen Pozza rendered a temporary judgment, granting full custody to the grandparents and allowing Vehle to have at least 12 hours of supervised visits with the child before he could resume his custody suit.

According to a friend of the family, the judge granted a request by Nonnie's parents that Vehle be required to travel to Colorado for the supervised visitations. However, before her parents could return to Colorado, the judge also granted Vehle one hour of time to meet with Savannah at a local McDonald's before Nonnie's parents could leave the state.

"During that hour, Ed never once looked at his daughter nor touched her," a family friend told Crime Library. "He also tried to intimidate Candice by staring her down when she marched over to the table where he sat with two other people (one of which was his sister), and asked him if he had anything to say to her, he told her to get out of the place 'Right now!' His sister was sitting at the table, but had hung her head, stared at the floor, and did not say anything."

During an interview with ABC 7, Nonnie's brother, Tony Dotson, said his family was happy with the ruling. "My mother feels [Savannah] is the last link to Nonnie, so we would like to keep her in the family," Dotson said.

Many of Nonnie's friends and family members believe Vehle filed for custody so he would not have to pay the $900-a-month child support.

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