Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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September 10, 2013

Law Enforcement: Church of Wells parishioners have not broken any laws in regard to an Arkansas woman whose parents have accused them of holding her in thrall

However, baby death remains under investigation.

WELLS — Parishioners of the under fire Church of Wells — who the parents of an Arkansas woman allege are holding their daughter in thrall — have broken no laws in regard to that situation as far as local law enforcement is concerned.

In fact, there is no evidence whatsoever that Catherine Grove, 26, was kidnapped or is being held against her will — a fact Cherokee County Sheriff's Department deputies verified three times by speaking to her away from the rest of the Wells congregation with whom she is currently staying, Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. John R. Raffield explained Tuesday.

“There is nothing illegal about it,” the captain said. “We have explained this to the family and other people. We can no more continue to question members of their church about this than we could pull parishioners out of a Methodist church, a Baptist church, or a Seventh Day Adventist Church and tell them, 'Your parents are really worried this church is filling your head with nonsense.'”

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department has investigated the situation because Wells does not have its own police force.

On Tuesday, Patty Grove revisited some of the statements that have been attributed to her in other media, including the use of the term "cult" to describe the church and "kidnap" to describe the situation.

"We are not saying she was kidnapped," she said. "But we are saying that we do not know what is going on behind closed doors and that is not OK."

The term "cult" was used by some "kids we met in town," and was not a characterization by the Groves themselves, she alleged.

Meanwhile, while there will be no further investigation into the alleged Catherine Grove kidnapping, authorities are still reviewing the circumstances behind the May 2012 death of a three-day-old baby girl whose parents — members of the church's congregation — waited 15 hours after her death to call 911.

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