- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) - Police are looking for a couple and their three young children who disappeared last week during a dispute with Child Protective Services, the agency said.

Detectives are trying to track the family to support the agency, said Lt. Bob Vander Yacht.

“There is certainly a concern for the children or CPS would not have sought the court order. The parents have, however, demonstrated that they are concerned for their children even if it is in a manner that CPS would like to see altered and improved,” he said Monday in an email.

The 1-year-old and twins who are now 2 months old had been removed from Cleave Rengo, 23, and Erica Carey, 29, on Nov. 5. A judge returned the children to the couple at a Dec. 5 hearing with orders to cooperate with CPS workers.

The family was living in a one-bedroom Bellingham apartment with Rengo’s father, Bruce Rengo. He told KING (https://kng5.tv/1DwyvjM ) the family packed up and left last Tuesday.

“I’m more concerned as time goes by,” Bruce Rengo said.

The couple fought a lot and were stressed over court orders and feared losing their children to the state, he said. They had no money.

Police were looking for them Monday under a pickup order issued last Wednesday by a judge, said Mindy Chambers, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services. The agency has concerns, but she would not specify them.

Police also are looking for them in Clark County, where they lived before moving to Bellingham, Vander Yacht said. The children are considered missing persons, he said.

The lawyer for Carey, Christina Nelson-King, declined to comment Monday on the current situation.

The couple blamed CPS for disapproving of their unassisted home birth and natural health treatments. They gained national attention on the Medical Kidnap website (https://medicalkidnap.com ) and social media, The Bellingham Herald reported in December (https://bit.ly/1zvknGC ).

In an interview, the couple, who believe in a holistic lifestyle, also said they were being bullied by CPS for refusing to treat their oldest son’s eczema with a steroid cream, which they believed would harm him.

At the Dec. 5 shelter care hearing, Court Commissioner Thomas Verge said he was concerned about a chaotic home life outlined by the attorney general’s office, representing the agency, which is part of the state Department of Social and Health Services.

The state cited 21 contacts with law enforcement since 2013, refusal or resistance to providing medical care for the children, concern about the twins being underweight, and domestic disputes between the couple.

The lawyer for Carey called the safety risk “primarily speculative.”

“Parents have a constitutional right to parent as they see fit,” Nelson-King said, adding that they also should be able to disagree with CPS.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, https://www.bellinghamherald.com


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