Pastor Arrested Who Aided “Ex-Lesbian” Flee Her Daughter’s Other Mother

Lisa and Janet in happier times

You may or may not remember the story of Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins and their daughter Isabella which we’ve been reporting on since late 2009, when Lisa fled the country with Isabella never to be seen again.

Just to recap before we get to the new news: Lisa and Janet met in 1997, at which time Lisa divorced her husband and began a relationship with Janet. They were engaged by February 1998 and eventually moved to Vermont where they obtained a civil union. Janet paid around fifty thousand dollars to facilitate Lisa’s pregnancy and subsequent birth of Isabella, which happened in Virginia in 2002. They then returned to Vermont and lived there.

The couple split in August 2003 and in September 2003, Lisa and Isabella returned to Virginia.

The Vermont court granted Miller primary custody when they split up but also recognized Janet Jenkins’ legal parenthood and the subsequent visitation rights that go along with that. This included daily phone calls and a few weeks each summer.

But then! Apparently, Lisa Miller got cured of The Gay! She became an Evangelical Baptist and freed herself from the chains of homosexuality. Subsequently, she filed to dissolve the civil union and demanded full custody of Isabella lest Isabella be raised in a den of sin/sanity.

Janet with her daughter

This is already pretty fucking heartbreaking. Anyone who’s broken up with a girl who now claims to no longer like girls at all knows what it’s like to look into eyes that used to want you and find them vacant and cold.

Things got colder, then: Miller didn’t give Jenkins the visits she was entitled to. The court began issuing warnings in early 2009 that Miller would lose custody if she refused to obey the visitation orders. In late 2009, the Vermont family court shifted primary custody to Jenkins because of Miller’s noncompliance and Miller took that opportunity to COMPLETELY FREAKIN’ VANISH, child in tow. The custody transfer was supposed to happen in January 2010.

A warrant was issued for Lisa Miller’s arrest but she has not yet been found.

But progress! Last Thursday, the FBI arrested Timothy David Miller, a pastor from Tennesee and a missionary for Christian Aid Ministry. Timothy allegedly helped Lisa & Isabella flee the country in September 2009, arranging for them to fly to Canada and then to Mexico and then to Nicaragua, where he did his “missionary work.”

In June of 2010, an anonymous person called Janet Jenkins’ lawyers and told her that Lisa and Isabella were living in a beach house in Nicaragua owned by a Phillip Zodhiates, a conservative businessman who has close ties to Liberty University, an evangelical school. The dean of Liberty actually represented Lisa in court on the custody issues, arguing that since Virginia bans same-sex unions, Jenkins had no rights. They lost, obviously. The FBI investigation amped up.

According to the F.B.I. affidavit, which was unsealed in Vermont on Thursday, the pastor arranged for Lisa and Isabella to flee the country. The escape began in Toronto, Canada, where on September 22nd Lisa & Isabella took a Mexicana Airlines flight to Mexico City and then, from Mexico City, flew to El Salvador.

On September 23rd they flew from El Salvador to Managua, Nicaragua, where Timothy David Miller worked as a missionary for Christian Aid Ministries. (Worth noting — “The existence of  a biological relationship between Timothy Miller and Lisa Miller has not  been established.”)

An Immigrations & Customs Enforcement Special Agent reports that no border records suggest that Miller has re-entered the country since September 22, 2009.

The FBI built their case mostly on emails between Timothy and his family, which are, obviously, fascinating. Lisa is seen as a victim by the people helping her to prevent Janet from seeing her daughter due to Janet’s “homosexual lifestyle”:

“This sounds a little like Joy Coats how they ruled to give the Grandparents custody. People can be  so unfeeling for the children included. I will be  praying about this.”

“Another big thing right now is CAM higher ups say she may not even go to CAM [Christian Aid Ministries] any more for the protection of  the organization.  That’s pretty sick.  The isolation is driving her  and little Lydia crazy!”

“Sorry, folks, the Lisa subject should currently not be  a topic of  discussion or  emailing.  I t  might soon, or  it jus t  might be  more of  a secret.  Please advise folks about this.  Pray.  Definitely, pray.”

Zodhiates told The Advocate that Lisa and Isabella are totally not at all living with him at all.

As this case goes on it gets scarier and scarier — when Isabella is found and returned to Janet Jenkins, how long will it take for her to overcome the endless indoctrination and brainwashing she’s likely been experiencing under Lisa’s “care”? Records indicate Isabella hasn’t been enrolled in any schools in the area, so she’s probably not learning what she should be learning or even socializing with other kids. And, perhaps most importantly, why are these alleged missionaries of G-d doing things G-d would never, ever approve of?

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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29 Comments

  1. Great, now I am crying on the bus and people are looking at me. This is so upsetting. I hope they find that child ASAP. I also hope Lisa Miller eventually become ex-ex-gay so she maybe gets a little saner and doesn’t lead a totally miserable existence.

  2. This is so horrific and wrong.
    I really hope they find them both and return Isabella to Janet. She’s still young enough that it hopefully won’t take too long to undo all the brainwashing.

  3. I hope Timothy Miller gets hit by a bus, the kid gets returned to Janet and un-brainwashed, and that Lisa Miller GETS SOME FRIGGIN THERAPY.
    Also, why is it that all the “ex-gays” that I’ve heard of ALWAYS go to Baptist churches? Go to a Unitarian Universalist or Episcopal church or something, maybe instead of praying the gay away they can pray the crazy away. Wait, do Unitarian Universalists pray?

  4. I can’t help but marvel at the absolute fucking nuttery of Lisa Miller and David Miller. Like, they are actually so insane that they can’t rationally understand how to achieve their twisted objectives.

    On some level, I can understand that an ‘ex-lesbian’ who has for one reason or another has come to reject her former ‘sinful lifestyle’ no longer wants her child to see her other parent. I can understand why her new church supports her in that, or that they would have actively brought her to that position. I think it’s sad and wrong and horrible, but I understand how it comes about.

    What I do not understand is they would then think it’s a good idea achieve this by engaging in acts that are very obviously going to lose Miller’s custody of the child permanently, such as INTERNATIONAL KIDNAPPING, unless Lisa Miller and Isabella are going to live as fugitives for the indefinite future.

    Maybe I am ranting here… I guess I just do not understand how people can become so blinded by self-loathing and / or homophobia that they totally lose their capacity for rational thought. The whole thing is just too sad for words.

      • Yeah, I do agree. Once you lay a foundation like that, the whole structure is going to be rotten one way or another.

        I think Gabrielle who commented below is also right when she observes the adults involved are so internally messed up they’ve lost touch with reality. You could probably write it as an equation: homophobia + emotionally unstable parent + small child = international clusterfuck.

    • @dizzy i am totally with you on this one.

      forget the gay stuff for just a second, i know it’s important but for a moment let it go.

      the kid has been kidnapped and taken on a trip around the world like she was a couple of kilos of coke.

      the adults who are responsible for her are obviously emotionally unstable and at this point have lost touch with reality and the law.

      and i grew up in a holy roller evangelical born again kind of church…

      they told us that homosexuality comes from actual demons possessing you and that these demons could follow you for the rest of your life and pull you into the pits of hell and all that shit…

      so this lady could be in her mind running from demons and trying to save her kid from them.

      it’s insane but we’re not in her shoes.

      either way, the kid isn’t safe. she’s been abducted by her own mother.

      fuck stranger danger.

      husbands rape wives. mothers abduct children and sometimes drive them into the hudson river…

      meh now i’m going to go smoke some trees or something…

      • I think you are right gabrielle… emotionally or mentally unstable people can do terrible things to the people closet to them. It’s hard to know what came first here: homophobia, or the emotional instability of the adults involved in her kidnapping. Since it seems like both conditions feed off each other, and one can cause the other.

        Also, I’m sorry that you had to grow up in that environment. No one should have to hear things like that about themselves. I hope you’ve been able to get past any pain that it has caused you.

  5. This is awful and heartbreaking and scary and angry-making and I keep imaging possible happy endings but I’m afraid it won’t turn out that way. I can’t even talk about all my feelings because it’s so overwhelming.

  6. This makes me so angry. Why do crazy kidnapping parents never consider what’s going to happen to their children 10 years down the road when the authorities finally catch up to them? The child is going to be ripped away from the only parent they’ve ever known and forced to live someone who is now a complete stranger them. It’s just so stupid and selfish. My heart really goes out to this little girl.

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