A Louisiana woman has been charged with aggravated kidnapping, after she allegedly traded two young children for a pet bird and $175. Fifty-three-year-old Donna Greenwell, a long-haul trucker from Pitkin, was at a livestock barn when she noticed a posted flier selling a cockatoo for $1,500. She called the number, and that’s when she met the Romeros.
Paul Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, of Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, were the ones selling the bird. When Donna showed up to look at the bird, the three began to talk. Although Paul had three children from a previous marriage, they wanted more together. The two had been trying unsuccessfully to have a child together for years. That’s apparently when Donna, who has an extensive arrest record that includes charges of kidnapping, assault and theft, hatched an idea. (Or perhaps she laid an egg.) It just so happened that she had two youngins’ she might be
willing to part with.
As it turns out, Donna had been caring for two children that weren’t her own for about a year now. The 5-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl had been handed over to her by their mother to take care of. (Makes you wonder how neglectful their original environment must have been for this lady to be a step up, doesn’t it?) Donna called the Romeros on February 18, 2009, to try and secure a transaction for the two kids. At first, she allegedly offered to sell the boy and girl outright for around $2,000. But when the Romeros said they couldn’t afford that, “Ms. Greenwell agreed to make an even trade,” says Keith Dupre, a detective with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Office.
True to her word, Donna showed up at the Romero’s home the next day with the children in tow, and asked for an extra $175 alongside the trade for the bird so that she could have attorney complete adoption paperwork. (Of course, she was not authorized to place the kids up for adoption, and adoption that involves money or the bartering for kids is illegal.) And that, in case you were wondering, is how to trade your kids for a cockatoo. (Be honest, every parent has thought about it once or twice before.)
When the scam came to light, Ms. Greenwell was arrested, where she remains in jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond. The would-be adoptive parents were also arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping. They are free after posting a $5,000 bond. Police believe they meant no ill and were just trying to look after the youngsters. “The Romeros had good intentions from what we see. They really wanted to take care of the kids,” says Dupre.
Of course, the real losers in all of this are the kids, who are going to be kidnapped again, this time by Social Services. Hopefully in the end they’ll be able to find a home where they are wanted and well cared for.