WAREHAM, Mass. (WPRI) — A Massachusetts woman who police say kidnapped her own children faced a judge Tuesday.
Valerie McGrath was ordered held in lieu of $50,000 bail after she was arraigned on a charge of kidnapping by a relative. The judge also ordered her held for up to 90 days on a bail violation for improper use of a credit card.
McGrath, 47, was found with the two children by Massachusetts State Police Monday night.
Prosecutors said there were items found in McGrath’s vehicle suggesting a possible suicide attempt. In court Tuesday, officials said a suicide note was located, along with a 24-foot black plastic hose, a plastic bag and a box of wine.
The defense claimed that McGrath is a victim of domestic abuse and said she feared for her children.
“It was the culmination and it was the actions of a desperate mom who had feared for her children’s safety at the hands of their father,” said defense attorney Katie Kelliher.
The defense also claimed McGrath lost custody of her children after refusing court-ordered supervised visits with their father.
“I don’t think there is any real indication that she was going to harm these kids,” added Kelliher. “I think she is a desperate woman who was at her wits end yesterday after not seeing her children for two months.”
Lakeville Police began a search Sunday night after the children, ages 5 and 7, were reported missing by their father, who has full custody over them. The father, Steve Carrigan, claims he allowed McGrath to take the kids that afternoon to celebrate their son’s birthday, and said he became concerned when she failed to return by the agreed-upon time.
“That was the only thing that was keeping me strong, that I was talking with people, the news people and stuff, thinking that she loves her kids, she wasn’t going to do something,” said Carrigan. “I was praying she wasn’t going to do anything to harm them but I just didn’t know where she was going to take them.”
McGrath complicated the search Monday when police said she ditched her SUV and rented a car in Fall River, but they were eventually able to track her down.
McGrath’s attorney pointed out Tuesday that Carrigan has a violent history of charges stemming from domestic violence situations.
“He has multiple convictions for assault and battery, he has convictions for assault with a dangerous weapon, he actually had spent time in jail up until this past January,” Kelliher said. “There is a restraining order which was issued out of this court and it lasted for two years based on the abuse she has suffered at the hands of Mr. Carrigan.”
Eyewitness News reached out to Carrigan for a comment on the suicide note, but no one answered the door at his home.Annie Shalvey contributed to this report.