- Neely Blanchard was arrested Thursday morning for breaking a custody order and kidnapping her twin daughters
- Blanchard took her daughters from her mother’s house, who has sole custody over the two girls
- On social media, Blanchard is directly linked to the sovereign law group E-Clause, QAnon, and the Family Forward Project
- Blanchard’s arrest marks the third time a follower of these groups has been arrested for breaking a court order to take their children
Neely Blanchard was arrested on Thursday morning in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, for breaking a custody order and kidnapping her twin daughters from her mother. Shockingly, Blanchard has direct ties to the sovereign law group E-Clause, the fringe conspiracy group QAnon, and a Facebook group led by a Tennessee attorney that claims to fight for family court reform.
According to the Logan County Sheriff’s Department, on Friday, March 20, at around 1:00 pm, Blanchard left her mother’s house with her 7-year-old twin daughters. Blanchard’s mother, Susan Blanchard has sole custody of the children. Up to this point, Blanchard had still been allowed some supervised visitation. Blanchard was at Susan’s house when she left to run a quick errand. When she returned, Blanchard and the children were gone. Blanchard later told Susan she was going to Dawson Springs to visit friends and go on a camping trip.
This is not the first time Blanchard has tried to illegally take one of her children. In 2013 she made the news after she was mistakingly released from prison. She was on trial for trying to drive off with her 4-year-old daughter without permission from Westview Primary School in Goose Creek. Blanchard was charged with drug possession from that incident. She was also accused of giving her friend 20 Xanax pills to call 911 to falsely report Susan was abusing her daughters at her home.
Logan County Sheriff Stephen Stratton said Blanchard was involved with a sovereign law group known as E-Clause. E-Clause founders Chris Hallett and Kirk Pendergrass use social media platforms to push nonsensical legal theories to desperate people in a legal crisis. Stratton said the group is currently pushing a conspiracy theory the U.S. government is using the COVID-19 outbreak to control American citizens. Blanchard often shared E-Clause-related material to her social media.
On Wednesday night, an Amber Alert was issued for Blanchard’s children, which spawned “tons of good information,” Stratton said. According to the Amber Alert, Blanchard’s custom license plate was “ECLAUSE.” The Secret Service assisted in tracking Blanchard through her phone and social media. Blanchard was located and arrested on charges of two counts of kidnapping and two counts of custodial interference. She was taken to the Hopkins County jail but will be extradited to Logan County where she will face charges.
On social media, conspiracy, sovereign, and QAnon groups are spreading across the Internet like wildfire. As that wildfire continues to spread, these groups are starting to merge into activist groups. In anti-Child Protective Services groups on Facebook, these sovereign and QAnon influence is becoming increasingly concerning as their nonsensical conspiracies are pushing some to take action in real life.
The anti-CPS Facebook group the Family Forward Project — founded by Tennessee attorney Connie Reguli — is a perfect example of where these radical idealists can share dangerously incorrect information with no consequence. Reguli’s group has grown to over 14,000 members but there appears to be no moderating or fact-checking among the members. The group has allowed known convicted child sex offenders, sovereign citizens, and QAnon conspiracy theorists to run amuck. Reguli at one point endorsed the book of David Shore, a man convicted for molesting his handicapped daughter. In recent months, Reguli has been posting easily debunked conspiracy-related material to her social media. She has talked about “red pilling” people, which is a Matrix reference used by QAnon referring to waking someone up to the “truth” that the world is run by a baby eating elitist cabal.
Reguli appears to have recently fed into a completely nonsensical conspiracy from QAnon claiming Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey, and several other key figures from the Pizzagate conspiracy have been arrested under the cover of the COVID-19 outbreak. Reguli posted a screenshot that appeared to show Hanks arrested. QAnon conspiracy theorists such as Liz Crokin have been vocally pushing the claim that Hanks was actually arrested and the claim of having COVID-19 was just a cover. The caption with Reguli’s deceiving post read, “Just saying……”
If you go to californiaarrest.org you’ll find Reguli’s search results for Thomas Hanks. If you click view report it leads you to a paid lookup service called InfoTracer.com. Instead of seeing an arrest for Hanks, you are led to an option to buy a membership. I went ahead and purchased a membership and ran the same search for Thomas Hanks through InfoTracer with no results for the actor. This is something Reguli could have checked for herself, and likely did, but neglected to include that in her post. After all, why wouldn’t she have posted the actual charges?
Blanchard was a member of Reguli’s Family Forward Project group on Facebook. She hosted at least one watch party to play video material from E-Clause. Pendergrass and Hallett mainly push their sovereign legal advice through the Facebook page “Kirk’s Law Corner.”
Reguli has legal issues of her own. Last year Reguli was charged after helping her client Wendy Dawn Hancock in breaking an Ex Parte Order of protection. A statewide Endangered Child Alert was issued after Hancock disobeyed the court order and took her 12-year-old daughter to Reguli’s where they were found roughly a week later. Reguli faces two counts of accessory after the fact, a Class E felony. Hancock faces one count of custodial interference, also a Class E felony.
In December, Cynthia Abcug was arrested after her daughter informed authorities her mother planned to kidnap her son from his foster family with members of QAnon. Abcug was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, a Class 4 felony. She was also receiving nonsensical legal advice from E-Clause, and wrapped up with conspiracy theorists Field McConnell and Timothy Charles Holmseth. It should be noted that last year Blanchard retweeted a Go Fund Me for Abcug on Twitter.
McConnell, Holmseth, Pendergrass, and Hallett were working together for a short period. The two even used McConnell’s YouTube channel “The Field Report” to take advantage of the much higher viewership. That all ended after Hallett and Pendergrass falsely claimed they could help McConnell with his legal problems from threatening and harassing an attorney in Florida.
McConnell and Holmseth are both online conspiracy theorists who under the guise of being part of President Donald Trump’s “Pentagon Pedophile Task Force” have received an unknown amount of money from online supporters. The fictional task force is backed only by Holmseth and his supporters. Outside of their group, there is no evidence it exists. Some have claimed the government does not recognize the task force because it is supposed to remain top secret. With that theory comes a valid question. If this task force is so secretive, why are the only members of this top-secret task force talking about it anywhere they can on social media accessible by the general public?
Holmseth is currently on the run from the law after violating a court order related to years of harassment and false accusations against Florida attorney Kim Picazio. McConnell was recently released from Broward County jail after being extradited for making threats against Picazio. He is currently awaiting trial and not allowed online.
In general, the influence Reguli, Hallett, Pendergrass, McConnell, and Holmseth have over people is reaching an unprecedented dangerous point. Blanchard’s arrest is the third instance where one of their followers without parental rights violated a court order and physically took a child.
Blanchard was open about her sovereign citizen beliefs. Shortly before her arrest, Blanchard posted a picture of the Amber Alert and a nonsensical legal document possibly put together by E-Clause. The caption read, “My revoked consent. I am ok and so are my daughters. This mommy is done playing. You will not hurt my daughters anymore! Only for the diligent. This is what the amber alert is really about.” Blanchard was arrested hours later.
After her arrest, a woman named Kathy Wilson went live from Blanchard’s Facebook page talking about the arrest. Wilson’s video was an almost twenty-minute long rambling of conspiracy theories mixed with claims of Blanchard’s innocence.
Pendergrass was on the live video talking to Wilson. Pendergrass doubled down on his lies, claiming “there might be some indictments for all involved in her cases.” Pendergrass was likely referring to a popular but easily debunked QAnon conspiracy that claims there are currently 150,000 sealed indictments to arrest the leaders of an elitist human trafficking cabal. In reality, whoever started the rumor did not understand how to read Pacer. Pendergrass went on to say, “Trump is unsealing them now as we speak.”
Pendergrass claimed, “E~Clause reported on all 4 states that have been involved back in 2019.” He followed with an empty threat. “They gunna find out real soon.”
A look through Wilson’s account shows she also was an avid supporter of McConnell’s online show “The Field Report” and of Reguli.
As the group gets more dangerous, and the criminal charges begin to stack up, so do conspiracy theories. The current COVID-19 outbreak has given endless material to a world of fringe conspiracy theory groups, which appears to be the target audience for groups such as E-Clause and the Family Forward Project. This is why it is likely to see the influence of these groups continue to be used to recklessly push incorrect information to anybody willing to listen.