Thank you!

By December 8, 2015Lee's Story

I want to say thank you to all those people who have made such amazing supportive comments after the airing of “Dear Savanna” show on CBS’s 48 Hours!

We watched the show together including  Samantha and our friends in Australia via Face Time, how wonderful is this modern technology!!!

My children and I are truly blessed with the outpouring of love and I’m thankful that some extremely important points were made during the show and people “Got it”.

For 21 years I have fought with my inner self wanting to come back and let the world know about the injustice which was done to Samantha and me, but my need to protect my family was too important to jeopardize. I am a believer that things happen for a reason and yes the pain and suffering my children went through when I was incarcerated and the devastating financial loss was horrendous but the truth outweighs the loss and we are stronger for it.

For every one of me there are tens of thousands out there both male and female who have been put through something similar.

Let us not forget when we complain about today’s youth so many of our youth have been put through nasty divorces, cruelty between parents, and adult situations not meant for children.

Clearly the system is and has been broken for many years here in the US where children are merely viewed as chattel not only via their parents but through the Courts, Lawyers, paid Guardian ad Litem’s and Psychologists and Psychiatrists. If this continues and we don’t find a remedy we will see more of our youth acting out on what they have learned from their elders.


  • Tracy McCracken says:

    God bless you again Lee for your bravery and strength to do what you did to protect your daughter. I couldn’t imagine being in the position you were put in. If I was put through what you went through, I honestly know I would do anything I could to be with my child. It’s just terrible how Samantha father used the system to gain efforts to make it like you were unfit.
    I still live here in Mt pleasant. I followed your story from when it was first reported. You are and were then an inspiration to me! I do hope Samantha is doing well. She’s a very beautiful girl. I have two of my own, 30 and 28. 2 grandsons, and another due in July. I can’t imagine not of sharing raising them?

    Kudos to you!!

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Thanks Tracy wow grandchildren how wonderful! I hope I will be able to enjoy mine when its time and spoil them rotten. I’m sorry to be back to SC and hear that things have remained the same. Hopefully with enough people speaking out we might make a difference our children are our future. Take care and I hope we can run into each other some time!

  • Julie L Davis says:

    You are quite welcome Lee. (My middle name is Lee too ! …nice name ?) So sorry for all you have been through. You are surly a blessing to your family for waiting so long to tell your story. Your suffering has finally turned into joy! You deserve all the happiness in the world. God bless you.. ?

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Thank you Julie for finding the time to write. I’m over joyed at the response everyone has given us and yes finally it’s time to enjoy life! Take Care

  • Maura Pierson says:

    Live, love and laugh. You are a strong women and any good mother would do the same. God bless!

  • amy says:

    wow! mind blown. your story really hit home. I so admire your courage in both saving your daughter’s life and sharing your story. I have gone through something so similar except I accepted the ruling out of fear. sadly, I left but I did so without my baby when she was 10 after I raised her by myself all those years. 7 years of those 10 in a custody battle and when I ran out of money and no longer could afford a lawyer is when I lost. I have had some updates and know my daughter is not doing well. I have chosen to wait until she is 18 to try and reconnect as I am trying to shield another child (from a different father) from this dangerous man. I have thought about writing a book myself about my story to make people more aware that this is an ongoing problem with the system wrongfully keeping children from the safer parent and ignoring obvious evidence that supports doing the right thing. my heart goes out to you and your beautiful family. just looking at your daughter you can see what a great mother you are as she radiates love. with all my heart I hope something changes very soon to protect families that belong together.

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Hi Amy, I’m so sorry to hear what you have gone through! It truly breaks my heart and unfortunately it’s a story which happens every day and if people don’t get a platform to speak out it keeps getting brushed under the rug… I hope with my experience we can some how bring more awareness to what is truly an epidemic. I believe the family court system should be listed on the stock exchange because the system is a money making business and our children are the commodities!!! I know I’m the lucky one because we made it. If there is anyway to check on the wellbeing of your daughter then I wish you luck. Hopefully once she is of age she can start rebuilding a life with you. Once again I’m truly saddened to hear what you have had to endure. Take Care Lee

  • Tamara says:

    I have seen a couple of shows about your story, and I totally support Lee, which is unusual for me as I have always been a strong advocate for ensuring that fathers have access to their children. After seeing both parents though, and hearing their stories, I know as only someone who has had personal experience with such men, that the father is the more dangerous, harmful, and manipulative person and the mother deserved to have her God-given right to raise her daughter without his damaging influence. So many people get pulled into a con man’s stories, including those you would think would be intelligent enough to see through him such as judges and therapists. At worst that judge should have awarded joint custody, and at best he should have awarded physical custody to the mother, but to be perfectly honest, my impressions of the father are that he would have been just as likely to disappear with the baby had he not gotten what he wanted. I am glad your daughter ended up with a happy life and now has the opportunity to weigh all the information on her own and make her own decisions as an adult.

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Hi Tamara, Thank you so much for your comments, it seems like you have had similar experiences to me or you just know they work. This is not a only what a man does to a woman but the reverse is also true. No matter which way it goes there is always one loser and that is the child. If our courts don’t start playing by the rules are children are not safe. A few bad apples spoil the bunch. Take care and thank you again.

  • Diane Richards says:

    I am sorry that you ever had to go through this, but you did the right thing by protecting your daughter. I was married to a sociopath for 18 years and had 2 children. While he was one person for the outside world, he was quite another to me. Emotionally abusive is putting it mild. After 18 years, I discovered that he owned another home with another woman across town. She knew about us, but we didn’t know about her. They were plotting to kill me. The old “we had a fight and she took off” routine. Luckily, at the last moment, they cancelled their plan. I have no doubt that he would have gotten away with it. Until you have experience with this, you can’t explain it to others. God bless you and your lovely children! Btw, my two children are amazing adults! We stuck together and our lives have been filled with love.
    Diane Richards

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Oh Diane I’m so happy you have had a good outcome from something so nasty. I gather you stayed strong to yourself and your children or things could have been very different! There are so many people out there that are told how useless they are and they believe it! Happy your children are adults and you can lead a stress free life without him. Thank you for writing.
      I wish you the best Happy Holidays!
      Lee Barnett

  • Angela McLaurin says:

    I admire you Lee. My story is very similar, but I refused the abortion to my twins. He killed one and endangered the other in utero.I raised the one that survived for 4 and a half years, He paid a lawyer lots of money. They sent the custody hearing notice to the wrong address intentionally. I knew nothing. My baby girl didnt even know this man. Still fighting for my rights 6 years later. Been to jail three times and 9 reports CPS neglected to take action. This man tried to kill me many times and never wanted either of my babes. Your friend in mothers rights, Angie McLaurin

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Hi Angie, What a terrible situation you and your children have been through. Please document everything and google support groups in your area. I’m sure this something you have already done, so for now, stay strong and take care of yourself so you can be strong for your daughter. Keep up the fight and never give up.
      Wishing you a happier 2016
      Lee Barnett

  • Jenni says:

    There was a lot of proof that he didn’t abuse his daughter. This is disgusting to me that people approve of what she did. Savanna/Samantha needed her dad. Also the judge ordered full custody to him so obviously there’s proof the mother was and is crazy or unstable. Sorry if people don’t agree. I just sympathize with the daughter and encourage her to get to know and love her father who spent so much time worrying and looking for his little girl.

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Hi Jenni,
      Thank you for your comment. I would encourage you to read through my website and once you have done that please consider how you would feel (if you are a woman?) in the same circumstance. I would like to say that I have never done a violent or dangerous thing in my life and I have NEVER been mentally ill or unstable. I had the right to give birth to my daughter care for my daughter, raise my daughter but most of all protect my daughter.
      If you would like or need any more information please don’t hesitate to write of comment.
      Thank you once again

      • Jenni says:

        Sorry if I offended you. I went through a similar situation where my son was adopted. I was accused of being mentally ill and unstable. But I choose not to take my son because I felt like it would mess him up even more than he already was being away from me. It’s an open adoption, so I still see him regularly. It’s hard not having him around all the time, but I cherish every moment with him. He still knows that I am his mother and that I love him. I just don’t agree with the way you went about it.

        • Lee Barnett says:

          Hi Jenni, You did not offend me by any means! We are all entitled to opinions and each person’s journey is their own. Well done with the success of your journey. I will caution you on criticizing someone without knowing the whole story, life is too short without negativity from uninformed people. As I told you I have never had a mental illness and I had so much evidence to back that up, fast forward 22 years later and what a shock the same women they crucified, labeled as mentally ill, forced weaned her baby and gave minimum visitations is back, still as sane as before. Just because a “Judge” rules one way doesn’t make it so and there could be many many things behind the scene which manipulates court outcomes. My suggestion to you is to become more informed prior to making comments as there is an epidemic in the Family court’s especially here in the US. Thank you Jenni for your interest.

  • Cherie Smith says:

    I did not get to see dear Savannah however I just finished watching the Dateline TLC report. As soon as the show started and I saw that Samantha’s real father was trying to take full custody of a nursing baby, I knew what was happening. He only wanted to punish you. I went through the same thing. Family attorneys know they can make a lot of money by creating chaos, and causing a fathet or a mother to go over the brink during Family Court proceedings. Yes, this system is broke. Families are left impoverished while the attorney said that count the cash and the judges make sure that they get voted for next time their name comes up.

    • Lee Barnett says:

      Hi Cherie, Thank you for your response and your keen insight on what is so accurate when it comes to family court here in the USA. Dear Savanna should be replaying this Saturday on CBS 48 hour show at 10pm, if you want to have a look. Once again thanks for you wisdom and acknowledgement of the broken system!
      Take care

  • Maria says:

    I would have done the same….I stand by you. Good luck the rest of your life and enjoy your kids

  • Angie Hunter says:

    I just finished watching the 48 Hours – Dear Savanna through my On Demand. I have been through a very similar situation to the point that I cried during the entire episode! My son is now 11 & I helplessly watch him being raised with damage being done every single step of the way. I appealed to the highest court in the State of Alabama to no avail. My divorce was nasty and I too was set-up to be considered mentally unstable to raise my child and he was ripped away from me…a stay at home momma, primary caretaker and only biological parent to my son. The biggest mistake I ever made was allowing my narcissistic ex-husband to step-parent adopt my son when he was 4, but he hadn’t portrayed his evilness at that point. I was manipulated and I have to live with the fact that I failed to protect my son! The short marriage (3 years 10 months from date of marriage to my filing date for divorce) ended like a nightmare straight out of a Lifetime movie that just never stops playing. I lived with his domestic violence (verbal, mental psychological and financial abuse) from about 9 months into the marriage until he finally became physically violent in front of my son who was days away from being 7. My baby called 911 for me so I could have help and all of this was also audio recorded because I was advised by my attorney to record anytime that I may have an encounter with him. He too testified under oath that I was throwing myself into walls and onto the ground. He only had his hands on me to “help me up”.
    I wish I had been as courageous as you! He had my “mom” turn against me as well so I lost my extended family as well. My dad had passed away in 2000 from cancer and my step-mom passed from a car accident in Michigan 2 weeks before I filed my divorce. I was in Migcigan for 3 weeks to be with her in ICU for a week, plan her funeral and attend for another week and start probate for my parents’ estate & clear out their belongings in the main areas of the house for my little brother to live there (he was only 23 & I promised my parents I would take care of him) on my final week there. I was portrayed as a mother who abandoned my child. From their the lies, twisting of truths and evilness just continued in his favor throughout the hearings (domestic violence and divorce: law in AL connects the cases in a divorce and heard by the same judge so every decision she made was biased towards him. I always thought telling the truth would redeem me and protect my son from him, but sadly I was very naive to how the court system really works. It isn’t about the best interest of the child anymore. I have been punished by my ex for leaving him, but my sweet son suffers the most!

    • Cherie Smith says:

      I am so sad for you. I experienced the same type of treatment in family court. It is all about continuing the fight to squeeze as much money out of parents as possible.

      • Angie Hunter says:

        You are so kind, Cherie! I’m so sorry you have had to deal with this heartache as well! I am thankful for all of these sites because I have found so many wonderful people that do get what i have been through and I never have to worry about judgement!

        Please don’t feel sad for me because for me it is about these golden that have to live with these abusers and narcissists. Through all of this abuse and abandonment, the deaths of my “good” parents and losing custody of my son I have been blessed with the most amazing support system! I am remarried to a wonderful man that protects and loves me like no other & have gained a princess of a daughter as my own. She didn’t have a mom in her life and God made me her mom. I have spent a lifetime of dealing with life not being fair and full of unjust times, but I managed to stay true to who I am despite them! Life isn’t easy and it won’t be “ok” until my son is back home with his momma. They succeeded at destroying my life, but not me. I rebuilt my life, I am stronger than I ever have been and I am thankful for my version of family! I am able to love and appreciate all of the small things and people in my life!

        • Lee Barnett says:

          Hi Angie, Your attitude is what has saved you from being destroyed! If you let these awful people and corrupt family court system destroy you then it will be your son who loses once again. I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to have survived if I had to stay and see anymore damage done to my daughter. One day it will all work out. Hang in there and keep positive your life and they way you live it will be all your son will need to know to show him what a great person you are! Bless you…

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