Missing girl’s mother released for third time

WHEELING – U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey released Lena Lunsford from jail Tuesday, but extended her probation following her third arrest this summer for violating the terms of her supervised release.

The judge placed Lunsford, 32, on 11 months of supervised release; her original term was set to expire sometime next spring. Rather than return Lunsford to prison, Bailey sentenced her to time served. She spent a total of 24 days in the Northern Regional Jail following her three arrests.

Lunsford was repeatedly warned to stay away from the convicted felon who fathered what will be her eighth child. She met him at a halfway house in Wheeling after her release from prison.

Lunsford previously served eight months for a welfare fraud conviction. Since completing the sentence, the Lewis County woman has been living at the Wheeling YWCA and attending West Virginia Business College.

Lunsford’s daughter, Aliayah, was 3 years old when she went missing in Lewis County in September 2011. The girl has never been found, and no one has been charged in her disappearance.

Earlier this year, Lunsford’s attorney successfully petitioned to keep her on supervised release in Wheeling. Probation officers wanted to relocate her to the Clarksburg area, again for alleged parole violations. But her attorney argued that Lunsford is a “social pariah” in the Clarksburg area because of her daughter’s case, and she would be unable to find work or residency there.

Senior U.S. Probation Officer Daniel E. Fugate permitted Lunsford to stay in Wheeling after her mental health treatment provider determined that relocating her would have an adverse effect, court documents state.