Upstate dad says his 4 missing girls found safe in Idaho - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Upstate dad says his 4 missing girls found safe in Idaho

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(from left to right) Lillian, Carolina, Emily and Minnie (Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office) (from left to right) Lillian, Carolina, Emily and Minnie (Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office)
FAIR PLAY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Oconee County father of four missing girls said his children were found with their mother in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Laverne Marie Bennett, 44, of Walhalla, has visitation rights with her four daughters every other weekend, according to deputies. Bennett picked up the children last weekend and did not return them to their father as planned, deputies said.

The girls, Lillian (Lily), 10, Minnie (Me-Mae), 9, Carolina (Amy), 8, and Emily Bennett, 6, were last seen by their father on July 7, deputies said.

Their father, Bruce Bennett, said that his ex-wife took the girls for the holiday weekend on July 4. She was supposed to return them on the 7th, but he had not heard from the girls or Laverne Bennett since she picked them up.

Bruce Bennett said he got a call from the Oconee County Sheriff's Office Saturday morning that his children were safe and his ex-wife was in custody in Idaho.  He said the children will be placed in temporary foster care together, until they can be reunited with him.

He said his ex-wife took off with the girls last August, and it took him until October to find them. He said that time, Laverne Bennett took them to Iowa, where she has family.

Oconee County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jimmy Watt said warrants were signed for Laverne Bennett's arrest on Sunday on four felony counts of custodial interference. Watt said she had three days to bring the girls back but because she has not yet, the charges were upgraded from misdemeanors to felonies.

Bennett said authorities in Idaho located his ex-wife's vehicle through a license tag reader.

We will bring you more on this developing story online and on air during The Ten O'Clock News Saturday night.

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