Parents of recovered 1-year-old talk to KOIN

Mariah Nichols in an undated photo provided by the Molalla Police Department on April 12, 2013

MOLALLA, Ore. (KOIN) — A three-day hunt for a 1-year-old girl reported missing from Molalla has ended, and now her parents say the girl was never missing at all.

Police say two Molalla parents took off with their sick 1-year-old daughter — instead of turning the child over to the state as they’d been ordered. But the parents tell KOIN a different story.

Those parents now say they never knew police were searching for them. Fourteen-month-old Mariah Nichols was running a high fever this past week.

“And he just took her to the hospital because her fever at the house was over 101 degrees,” Dusty Willman tells KOIN.

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Maria’s parents, Damien Nichols and Dusty Willman, said they never thought caring for their daughter would lead to a massive search. The search eventually brought the FBI to a rural Molalla home, as shown in surveillance footage.

On Sunday the parents of that girl spoke out, saying their  sick daughter was never missing. And they had no idea authorities were looking for her — until the FBI burst in.

“They had guns drawn, and big assault rifles.”

Molalla police were looking for Mariah after the Department of Human Services reported she was missing with a medical condition. Her parents said they were  supposed to meet a caseworker at the doctor’s office, but were late.

“They never said she was in any danger, they never said that they were taking our kid,” the mother said.

“They never said we were supposed to hand our child over, surrender our child or anything,” Damien Nichols said. “All we were told was that we need to make a follow-up appointment. We made the follow-up appointment. The appointment was interrupted by DHS.”

The Nichols believe they’re being treated unfairly by a system they don’t understand. They say Mariah is fine. But DHS has her now, until all of this is straightened out.

Molalla police say Mariah is fine and the parents have not been charged.

Related resource:

  • Surveillance footage of the FBI raid:

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