Unsolved Mysteries -- the Untold Story

(Donald and Connie Hanes, son Michael and 4-year-old Zenith)

What do you do when your own daughter offers you a child to adopt and you love all of your family and want to keep them together? Donald Hanes and his wife Connie Jean accepted such an offer from Connie's daughter 4 years ago with high hopes for a bright future. They never dreamed that the situation would sour into the nightmare that it is today.

On January 21, 1997, 4-year-old Zenith was detained away from family and friends in a illegal seizure that put the child back with her biological mother, Kelly Jean Helton. Donald and Connie are now facing prison terms for doing what they believed was the best they could do for Zenith.

The following pages have been put up on the web in response to the one-sided story that has been presented by Kelly Jean Helton in the media, on the Maury Povitch Show and most recently on Unsolved Mysteries. Donald and Connie's case was never heard in court in spite of thousands of dollars in legal fees, but their major goal is this: TO GIVE CHILDREN A VOICE IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM.

When children are the subject of court battles it is rarely a black and white case; seldom is there a happy ending, least of all for the child. The child in this particular case has been displaced out of her home three times -- and the third time will be her final time. The words of Connie at this point are telling, "We have to let go -- we can't let her go through this again. We've been with her the best years of her life, the developing years, and I'm thankful for that. She knows how to express herself when she's angry and that it's ok to cry when she's sad. She knows how to laugh and play. We've given her this and I know that she won't forget it. She'll come back in the end".

(Donald holding Zenith at her infants blessing)

Connie and her daughter Kelly, previously had a very close relationship which would be referred to as enmeshed in psychological terms. Perhaps it is the very intensity of this relationship that is causing the magnified dispute between her and her daughter today. Donald and Connie's deepest hope is that one day the conflict will be resolved and the family can be restored. They also sincerely hope that one day, someone who can make a difference will realize what the courts are doing to our children.

Please hear their side of the story.

A summary of the story

A chronology of the events
6 new photos linked to the time they were taken

The Family and Attachment Center Report

Account of Connie being beaten by Kelly's boyfriend

The Illegal Seizure

The Violation of the Hague Convention Petition to Adopt
Court transcripts from the consent, pages 1-6 Custody vs adoption
Transcript of Kelly's appearance on the Maury Povitch Show The last Utah District Court ruling
The Thomas Report Transcript of the "Unsolved Mysteries" Show
The Oct.'97 Icelandic Supreme Court ruling The "Unsolved Mysteries" story
Rebuttal to some points in Kelly's UM story The mother's signed consent form
A bishop's letter to the judge The father's signed consent form
Zenith's voice, transcript of the abduction What happened just after Zenith was taken
Don's first letter home while in jail The betrayal of Zenith by those who knew her
Don's 1999 return to Arizona

A home movie of Zenith
Quicktime format - 18 sec - 1.44 mg

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Zenith's voice in the final hour

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A Christmas greeting from Don and Michael

This page was last updated: January 22, 2004