Vancouver father appears in court in kidnapping case

He allegedly snatched toddler from Child Protective Services

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A Vancouver man appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of abducting his 5-month-old son Nov. 27 from Washington Child Protective Services.

Kasey R. McKernan, 31, faces charges at a Dec. 18 arraignment of first-degree kidnapping, third-degree assault and intimidating a public servant. Judge Suzan Clark appointed Vancouver attorney Jeff Sowder to defend him.

She held McKernan on $200,000 bail, based on his felony history, multiple violations of domestic violence court orders and that he has been a fugitive multiple times. Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino, who requested the bail, said McKernan is a clear flight risk.

“He has proven to be one in the past,” Gasperino said.

“Many people would work hard to keep their child,” Sowder protested. He said the bail was more appropriate for a homicide case.

McKernan was apprehended early Sunday near Northeast Sandy Boulevard and Northeast 112th Avenue in Portland and transported to the Clark County Jail.

The baby’s mother, Summer B. Smith, 36, of Vancouver was arrested Saturday at a residence on West 19th Street in Vancouver. She faces similar charges at her arraignment on Dec. 18, and is in jail on $200,000 bail.

Five-month-old Jaxon Smith also was found unharmed Saturday with his mother.

More arrests expected

Court records show that Jaxon was to be removed from his parents’ care because of concerns about drug use, domestic violence, inappropriate caregivers and an unsafe living environment. Summer Smith made a first appearance Nov. 19 in Superior Court on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine.

When a social worker attempted to take Jaxon into CPS custody Nov. 27 on a court order — the specific grounds have not been released — Smith and McKernan allegedly snatched the child and fled in a pickup. McKernan threatened to strike another social worker who tried to pursue them, according to court documents.

Vancouver police arrested Michael Grant Fuller, 33, Dec. 5 on suspicion of aiding the couple in eluding authorities.

Police said they anticipate additional arrests related to suspects who assisted in hiding Jaxon from law enforcement.

Vancouver police, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are investigating the case.