Accused of taking grandson without permission, Olney pleads not guilty

| May 12, 2020 8:16 AM

Rebecca Ruth Olney pleaded not guilty to a single count of custodial interference in her first appearance in Lincoln County District Court on May 4.

The 54-year-old Libby woman is accused of sparking a cross-country search after disappearing with her grandson for several days in April. Authorities caught up with the pair in Missoula on April 18, but not before the state issued a missing endangered person alert for the 12-year-old boy.

According to court documents, Olney had spent the week with the boy with the permission of his mother. But Olney was to stay in contact and in remain in Libby.

The mother contacted authorities when the two failed to show up for dinner on April 16. According to a timeline constructed by law enforcement officials, the two left Lincoln County on April 17, likely after spending the night in Olney’s car, parked off of state Highway 56.

Attempts to contact Olney by phone or Facebook Messenger went unanswered, according to court documents. When authorities tried pinging the pair’s mobile phones, they learned the devices had been shut off.

During the subsequent search, authorities learned Olney was in contact with acquaintances in New York, New Hampshire and Washington state, prompting them to contact officials in those states.

Police officers in Missoula eventually took Olney and the boy into custody after a witness spotted the 12-year-old trying to disconnect the battery in the pair’s vehicle. The boy was returned to his parents and Olney was charged with custodial interference.

She was initially held on a $25,000 bond. An omnibus hearing is scheduled for June 15 with the case expected to go to trial Sept. 15.