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A mother allegedly abducts her 8 children, flees across five states to ‘start a new life’ before her arrest

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A mother of eight children is accused of abducting her children, taking them from their foster care facilities, and then fleeing across five states until police caught up with her in a small town in northern California.

Trista Fullerton, 36, allegedly violated a court order of custody for the eight children, as well as the terms of her probation for a domestic violence conviction, when she took the kids from the town of Rogers, Ark., and fled across the country while Arkansas police tried to reach her, according to court records.

Her father told police that Fullerton planned on heading to Arizona “to start a new life,” according to a warrant for her arrest. Instead, Fullerton was found in Anderson, Calif. — 150 miles north of Sacramento — where police said they spotted her and six of her children in a pickup truck filled with trash after someone reported that Fullerton was “displaying bizarre behavior.”

According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by The Times, police from Rogers began trying to contact Fullerton on Oct. 17, after receiving a report that she had “interfered with court ordered custody of eight children.”

Rogers Police officials declined to provide additional details on the case, including who made the initial report. A spokesperson for the department said the case is still under investigation.

According to the affidavit, police reached out to Fullerton’s father, David Fullerton, on Oct. 18, and he told police that his daughter had told him about taking the children to Arizona. Police learned the following day that she and the children were in California, according to the affidavit.

Police had made contact with her and the children in Redding, about 15 miles north of Anderson, but she and the children were not detained because there was no warrant.

Rogers Police filed an arrest warrant Oct. 20, and the next day, police in Anderson, Calif., spotted her and six of her children in a Dodge pickup with Arkansas plates, according to a statement from the Anderson Police Department.

Two of her other children were located at a nearby home in Cottonwood, according to the statement, and they were taken into custody by Shasta County Children and Family Services.

Fullerton was booked at Shasta County Jail and is being held without bail, according to jail records. She is expected to appear in court Thursday.

A woman sits on a yellow bench that is against a wall.

Trista Fullerton, 36, allegedly violated a court order of custody for her eight children, as well as the terms of her probation for a domestic violence conviction.

(Anderson Police Department)

David Fullerton, said during a brief call with a reporter that his daughter had made a “mistake” and is “innocent.”

“My daughter stands a chance, you know,” he said. “She made a mistake. She went across the line taking her babies but she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to.”

Court records indicate that Fullerton was on probation at the time of her arrest in Anderson. Records also show that she had been involved in at least two instances of domestic violence, twice violating court orders to stay away from the victim. In one incident, she was accused of punching the father of one of her children in the face.

Fullerton pleaded guilty to domestic violence on July 12, 2022 in Arkansas, after she “hit the father of her child in the face, causing physical injury” in June 2021.

The victim is only identified in the court documents as a 40-year-old Hispanic male.

In a court record dated Aug. 9, 2021, Fullerton indicated she had seven children at the time, ages 15, 14, 11, 7, 3, 4, and 5 months.

She also pleaded guilty to another case of domestic battery for a Feb. 5, 2020, incident in which she “punched her boyfriend in the head multiple times and scratched his face, causing redness and bleeding on his face,” according to court records.

Fullerton pleaded guilty to both incidents, and was sentenced to two years of probation, court records show. The terms of her probation, however, required that she not drink alcohol, not break the law and not leave the state of Arkansas without the approval of her probation officer.

The agreement stipulated that if she violated the terms of her probation, she could face a sentence of 12 years in jail.

On Wednesday, prosecutors requested her probation be rescinded and a $50,000 warrant was issued for her arrest.

Prosecutors said the case is currently being reviewed and it was unclear what, if any, new charge might be filed.

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