CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The attorney for the mother of a missing West Virginia girl is opposing a decision by federal probation officials to move her from Wheeling to the Clarksburg area, saying she is a "social pariah" in that community because of publicity surrounding her daughter's case.
Lena Lunsford was freed from a federal prison earlier this year after serving eight months for welfare fraud. She was placed on one year of supervised release.
Since then, Lunsford has been under supervised released in Wheeling, where she has lived at a YWCA, attended classes at West Virginia Business College, and worked at a pizza restaurant, federal public defender Brian J. Kornbrath said in a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Elkins.
Kornbrath said he sought Wheeling as the location for Lunsford's supervised release because of the community reaction in the Clarksburg area to the disappearance of her daughter. Aliayah Lunsford was 3 when she disappeared from her family's home near Bendale in Lewis County on Sept. 24, 2011.
Lena Lunsford was regularly threatened and insulted, despite no evidence that she was involved in any way, Kornbrath said.
"Defendant is a social pariah in the Clarksburg area and will find it impossible to settle without further incident. This is much less likely to occur, and in fact has not occurred, since defendant began supervision in Wheeling," he wrote in his motion, which was first reported by The Exponent Telegram.
Aliayah has never been found. Authorities have made no arrests and identified no suspects.
Lunsford was indicted weeks after Aliayah's disappearance on charges that she illegally swapped welfare benefits for cash five times in two months. She pleaded guilty to selling $114 worth of credit on her food-stamp card for $50 cash and reported to prison in June 2012.
Her supervised release includes a condition that she live at the YWCA and participate in a substance-abuse treatment program, which allowed her to reside at the YWCA free of charge.