Protesters and reporters bombarded Lena Lunsford with questions Tuesday about the location of her missing 3-year-old daughter, Aliayah, as the Lewis County woman left the Jennings Randolph Federal Center in Elkins.
During the hearing before U.S. Magistrate John S. Kaull, Lunsford accepted a plea agreement on one count of a six-count indictment regarding federal welfare charges.
Afterward, Lunsford exited the building with her attorney Brian Kornbrath. As she was trying to get to her car, she was surrounded by several protesters and reporters. About eight people fired question after question at Lunsford, but she remained silent.
"How can you as a mother stand there and breathe every day knowing your baby is gone?" one protester shouted as Lunsford got into her vehicle. "How can you do that? Don't you care about your other children?"
"We want to know where the missing baby is," shouted another.
Other questions shouted at Lunsford included whether she had sold Aliayah and whether she was pregnant again.
Donna Queen and Margie Blake were two of the protesters holding signs and asking for justice for the missing child.
"I just want to see how our justice system is going to deal with this matter," Queen said before the hearing. "I just want to see if we can get any truth (from Lunsford) about where the baby is."
Queen said she doesn't believe Lunsford should continue receiving welfare benefits considering she was charged with selling use of her Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program card.
Desiree Matheny, of Doddridge County, is very interested in the case of the missing girl. She said a lot of questions have gone unanswered, and she questioned the parents' past arrests in separate incidents, unrelated to the child's disappearance.
"We want to see justice served. We are tired of her being able to walk. We want answers about her daughter," Matheny said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the return of the child and information leading to the arrest and conviction of any party or parties involved in her disappearance.
Investigators are treating the disappearance as a crime but have made no arrests and named no suspects.