OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The father of a 7-year-old Oklahoma girl believed to have been abducted by her slain mother's estranged husband violated a court order when he let the child make an unsupervised visit with the woman, an attorney said Thursday.
Aja Johnson has been missing since her mother, Tonya Hobbs, 35, was found slain in Geronimo on Sunday. Police believe she was taken by Lester Hobbs, 46, after his estranged wife brought the girl for a visit Saturday. Hobbs has been charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping.
A Dec. 4 court order prohibited Tonya Hobbs from being alone with the girl and said the child could not be near Lester Hobbs, an ex-convict. But a lawyer for the girl's father, John J. Johnson of Oklahoma City, told The Associated Press that Johnson let Tonya Hobbs take Aja to a birthday party last Friday.
"He's kicking himself and blaming himself for letting these bad things happen," attorney John Branch said. "He's blaming himself for not living by the terms of the temporary order."
A judge granted Johnson temporary custody Nov. 6. A month later, the judge barred private visits between the girl and her mother and said the child had to avoid Lester Hobbs because Johnson feared Hobbs would not be a good influence on the girl, Branch said.
Johnson had recently come to believe Aja's mother was no longer seeing Hobbs, Branch said. Johnson did not return a telephone message Thursday.
Tonya Hobbs took her two daughters to Geronimo on Saturday to visit Lester Hobbs and his family, according to a court affidavit. Surveillance video from a Wal-Mart in nearby Lawton shows Tonya and Lester Hobbs, apparently holding hands, walking into the store about 5:15 p.m.
After dinner, the couple and 7-year-old Aja went to Lester Hobbs' motor home for the evening, the affidavit states. Tonya Hobbs' older daughter stayed with Hobbs' relatives and is not missing.
Tonya Hobbs was found beaten to death inside the trailer the next day.
"At the beginning, they were together, but we don't know what's happened to the child since then," said Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, who announced a $20,000 reward Thursday. "Time is not working in our favor." Earlier this week, Reno police had a tip that Hobbs and the girl might be in the Reno area, but no trace of them has been found.
Tonya Hobbs' mother, Alice Dunkin, said Lester Hobbs had previously threatened the family.
"He's got threats out that if anything happened to Tonya and it looked like he was going to jail, he'd come after her family," Dunkin told the AP.
In a petition for a protective order filed in August, Tonya Hobbs wrote that her husband vowed to kill her if she left him. "My husband has threatened to hit my daughters in the head with a hammer and kill them," she wrote.
But Branch said Thursday he and Johnson were unaware of any threats of violence or signs of physical abuse by Lester Hobbs.
"It's totally amazing to me all of this that's come out about what a bad actor he was," Branch said.