Denver Rocky Mountain News

Copyright 2001

Sunday, January 28, 2001

WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER PROVIDING FALSE TIP ABOUT MISSING TODDLER CALLER SAID SHE KNEW WHO HAD TAKEN BOY, 3, LOST IN POUDRE CANYON

by Sarah Huntley News Staff Writer

Contact Sarah Huntley at (303) 892-5212 or huntleys@RockyMountainNews.com.

Fueled by perpetual hope, Allyn Atadero wanted to believe the woman on the other end of the line.

She'd given him a useful phone number once before and now she said she knew who had his 3-year-old son, Jaryd, who disappeared 15 months ago while on a hiking trip in Poudre Canyon.

"I really thought this was it. I freaked out," Atadero said Saturday.

But Larimer County sheriff's officials say the help was nothing more than a hoax that preyed on a family's vulnerability and violated the law.

On Friday night, investigators charged the caller, 32-year-old Shelley Lynne Goff of Fort Collins, with attempting to influence a public servant with false information. The charge is a felony.

Jaryd has been missing since Oct. 2, 1999, while hiking on Big South Trail with his sister, now 7, and 11 members of a Christian singles group acquainted with his father. Seventy searchers and four dogs fanned out over seven miles of trails in Roosevelt National Forest but found no trace of the toddler.

Atadero said Goff called his house last week and told him she had received a tip from a woman named Kathy who said another woman, Janice, had the child.

Janice is the first name of one of the women who was with Jaryd's group the day he disappeared. She has since moved out of state, Atadero said.

A day later, Goff called again, Atadero said. She was crying and said "Kathy" had phoned her seven times.

"She said, 'The people who have Jaryd really want to give him back. They feel bad about taking him and they hope no one hates them,' " Atadero said.

Investigators looked into the tip but found no truth to it, said Deputy Cindy Gordon, sheriff's office spokeswoman. Goff agreed to take a polygraph test but failed it Thursday night.

"She knew she was telling us a lie," Gordon said.

Reached at her home Saturday, Goff said she only lied about who had given her the information.

"I was trying to protect the source, so I couldn't say who she really was. Now I'm in hot water because of it," Goff said. "I guess I'm not a very good liar."

Goff identified herself as a criminal profiler and said she moved to Fort Collins from Texas, in part to assist with the search for Atadero's son.

She is motivated, she said, by her own experiences. Goff told Atadero previously that she was abducted as a child and has been unable to locate her real parents.

"She didn't want that to happen to another child," Atadero said. "In the beginning, I thought she had a little credibility. When someone calls you to say they want to help, of course, you say, 'Oh yes, please.' "

About seven months ago, Goff contacted Atadero and alleged that his son had been seen in a Mexican child labor camp.

"Every time she tells me a story, it sends me right back to the day he went missing," Jaryd's father said. "She needs to realize she can't play games like this."

Goff, who has a court hearing Tuesday, declined to discuss the labor camp tip, saying she didn't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

"All I'm trying to do is the right thing," she said.