- Arlena Willes is currently in jail after refusing to complete a court-ordered mental evaluation by December 30
- Since her incarceration, Crystal Nuttle has become Willes’ newest advocate to claim her innocence
- Nuttle has strong connections to sovereign scammers Francesca Amato and David Jose Watson along with at least one other major sovereign group
- In 2013, Nuttle was one of four women that kidnapped a child from CPS care in Tucson, Arizona
On July 12, 2019, Arlena Willes, 48, was booked into the Maricopa County Jail in Arizona for two counts of child or vulnerable adult abuse. Willes is currently in jail after failing to cooperate with the court’s request for a mental evaluation but has yet to be convicted.
Arlena Willes Charged With Child Abuse
Following Willes’ most recent arrest, a woman by the name of Crystal Nuttle has filled the role of being her advocate. Nuttle has been on social media demanding justice for Willes even though it appears she doesn’t even understand the basics of the case, such as the charges. According to Nuttle, Willes is charged with attempted murder, a claim that is simply not true.
In reality, Willes had her son removed from her custody by the Department of Child Safety after refusing him needed medical treatments. Willes took her son to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for abdominal pain and blood in his stool. Upon discharging her son, medical staff suggested Willes’ son receive a steroid treatment that could be “life-saving.” Willes met with doctors and refused the treatment.
After meeting with doctors, a hospital social worker tried to explain the importance of the treatment. Willes’s son was discharged from the hospital “against medical advice.” The next day a social worker came to Willes’ house. Willes claims the social worker “coached” her son on what to say to get them back in the hospital. She also claims the social worker made false claims that her son was “withering in pain.” As her son’s condition got worse, Willes’ husband finally sided with the social worker and said they needed to take him back to the hospital.
A History Of Sovereign Advocates
After her son was removed from her care Willes began taking direction from two known sovereign scam artist posing as family advocates. Francesca Amato and David Jose Watson encouraged Willes to use an affidavit based on nonsensical sovereign law. Amato was seen on Facebook LIVE with Willes when she was arrested. Since her arrest, Willes has filed several frivolous legal documents and appears to have made her legal issues worse for herself under the guidance of others.
Willes is now in jail and her son is in his father’s custody. DCS attempted to work with Willes but she refused to cooperate. At one point Willes bragged on her Facebook that she would not respond to DCS as she was handling the situation through her own misguided legal actions. Most recently, Willes appealed a Ninth Circuit ruling dismissing her petition for lack of jurisdiction and her section 2254 petition. “The district court correctly determined that section 2254 does not confer federal habeas jurisdiction over challenges to state child custody proceedings,” a court document read.
Willes is a perfect example of what not to do if you find yourself under the scope of Child Protective Services, but that does not stop many within a dark area of social media claiming her innocence. A growing number of anti-CPS groups are riddled with sovereign ideologies, scams, and easily debunked conspiracy theories. Some even praise convicted murderer Jody Herring as a hero. On August 7, 2015, Herring murdered her two cousins Regina and Rhonda Herring, her aunt Julie Falzarano and her state social worker Lara Sobel. Herring had a total of four children removed from her custody over several years riddled with drug addiction, homelessness, and abusive relationships.
Nuttle believes Willes and another woman facing similar charges in Arizona, Melissa Diegel, are being silenced to stop them from exposing DCS. She is one of the more extreme conspiracy theorists that believe Willes and Diegel could be killed in jail to silence them. Nuttle’s clear lack of understanding of the law, strong sovereign connections, and her own legal issues raise serious concerns over her attempts to be an advocate for families dealing with CPS.
When Willes was recently ordered to jail for not appearing for her evaluation, court documents note that Nuttle “rose to her feet and began screaming in the court.” Nuttle “yelled threatening statements toward the judicial officer and promised religious retribution for the decision to remand the defendant and require her to be evaluated.” Nuttle had to be admonished to leave the courtroom.
Some claim Willes was only recommended to get a mental evaluation but court documents show that is not true. According to a court order on November 20, 2019, Willes was ordered to receive a mental evaluation from Dr. M. David McGady and Dr. Sarah Gallimore. The mental evaluation was ordered to be completed and turned into the Superior Court Forensic Unit by December 30, 2019.
Crystal Nuttle Helped A Mother Take Her Child From DCS
On July 26, 2013, Nuttle helped Teketa Riley take her 6-year-old son from a midtown CPS office during a supervised visit. According to Tucson Police Department Sgt. Chris Widmer, while Riley was inside the office with her son Nuttle, Paula Flowe, and Debbie Ramos pulled up outside of the building and attempted to distract employees inside. Eventually one of the women went inside the building and caused a “disturbance.”
“As this was occurring, Ms. Riley fled the facility with her child to the awaiting vehicle. The person that created the disturbance returned to the vehicle and it left the area,” Widmer said. On August 1, detectives found Riley, her son, and two of the women at a home in Phoenix. A fourth woman not at the home turned herself in to authorities.
Following a jury trial, Nuttle was convicted of custodial interference in 2018. Nuttle was placed on probation for thirty-six months. Much like Willes, Nuttle filed a pro se appeal to her conviction that was denied. Investigators viewed videos of Nuttle with Riley’s son after his disappearance. The videos also showed they were in Nuttle’s home. Nuttle’s claims of misconduct by the trial court and DCS were found to not be sufficiently developed and irrelevant to her convictions. It was reported that Nuttle viewed herself as a hero for her actions.
Crystal Nuttle And The Sovereign Citizen Movement
Nuttle appears to have connections to Watson dating back at least two years. In 2018 Nuttle made a petition on Change.org titled, “Demand AZ DCS To Return David & Brandi Watson’s CHILDREN NOW!” The petition only received 257 signatures and ended without Watson’s children being returned. Watson continues to push sovereign affidavits on desperate parents with Amato under the guise it will return their children from CPS custody despite his failed attempts at getting his children returned home.
In comment sections on Facebook, Nuttle has also spoken of using affidavits to free Willes. Nuttle tags Kirk Pendergrass who claimed to be part of a fictional task force assembled by President Donald Trump. The “Pentagon Pedophile Task Force” does not exist and was created by online conspiracy theorist and fugitive from the law, Timothy Charles Holmseth. Recently Pendergrass and his partner Chris Hallet were renounced by Holmseth after failing to get another online conspiracy theorist, Field McConnell, out of jail.
Like Watson, Nuttle appears to have close ties with sovereign groups. Watson renounced his citizenship to Reign of Heavens, a known sovereign citizen group. A 2018 “Declaration of Indictment” for human rights violations against Nuttle was written by “The Great Jury” of “The American National Union of The United States of America and Party.” There are a number of fictional courts within the sovereign movement that hold no actual legal authority.
The document claims Arizona “did knowingly, willfully and intentionally without regard for human rights violate multiple articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime of which the United States of America is a Party as of November 3, 2005.” If that sounded like total nonsense to you that is because like most sovereign law, it is. The document is signed by “The Foreman of The Great Jury of The United States of America,” Steven R. Isham. Nuttle often tags Isham on social media.
Nuttle Teams Up With Fraud Reporter Shara Michelle
According to a Facebook post from Nuttle on Thursday, joining her in proclaiming Willes’ innocence is self-accredited journalist Shara Michelle. Michelle claims to be the owner and a journalist for “Freedom Public Press,” a media outlet that does not exist in any form. Instead, Michelle calls officials and interferes with CPS cases from around the country only to make posts and memes through her personal Facebook account.
In her own post, Michelle announced she had been “asked to cover the criminal court proceedings of Arlena Willes.” Michelle—who claims to be a journalist—also falsely claimed Willes is charged with attempted murder despite her charges being readily accessible to the general public.
Recently Michelle refused to take down a post on her Facebook account related to a woman who died from suicide. As the woman’s funeral was going on, family members found themselves arguing with Michelle to remove the post. Michelle briefly removed the post only to once again repost the same content despite disapproval from the family. Like Nuttle, Michelle has been involved with Amato and Watson in the past and even drove to Washington D.C. to take part in a failed rally against CPS. Michelle was to play a song she wrote for another family involved with CPS she had followed through social media but ended up canceling due to an illness.