Missing woman's mother retains custody of woman's child

Andreen McDonald still missing, feared dead

SAN ANTONIO – Following a daylong hearing, Judge David Canales has ruled that the mother of missing businesswoman Andreen McDonald will retain custody of McDonald’s 8-year-old daughter.

McDonald’s father had sought custody of the child.

McDonald mysteriously disappeared on Feb. 28, and her husband, Andre McDonald, was subsequently arrested and charged with tampering with evidence in her disappearance.

The missing woman’s mother, Hyacinth Smith, has been caring for the couple’s daughter since Andreen McDonald disappeared.

Smith’s former husband, Paul Anderson, who is Andreen McDonald’s father, filed a petition seeking custody of the child, alleging that she is not getting the care and counseling that she needs.

“For whatever reason, there hasn’t been an attempt to try to get that child what she needs. Though, she, Ms. Smith, has been in a position to cooperate and support that," Ed Cano, Anderson's attorney, testified.

Jean Brown, Smith’s attorney, gestured toward Smith, said, “This woman right here is the only woman who has been in the child’s life her entire life, and he (Anderson) has had very little contact with the child.”

Smith testified that she would be willing to share custody with Anderson.

“What I mean is, like, whenever he visits, he could see her because he’s not living in America. He is living in England,” Smith said.

A counselor from the child’s school, Ms. Applewhite, testified that the child, who is autistic, has changed her behavior dramatically since her mother disappeared. She said that the child is hostile and is not the happy child she once was.

“The child has taken Play-Doh utensils and cuts up the Play-Doh, saying, ‘I’m going to cut you up and you’re going to die,'" Applewhite said.

Applewhite said that “(the child) has told other children that she wants to burn them.”

About the Author:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.