West Hartford teen back home after custody battle - CBS46 News

West Hartford teen back home after custody battle

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Justina Pelletier said it was 'awesome' to be home. (WFSB photo) Justina Pelletier said it was 'awesome' to be home. (WFSB photo)
Justina Pelletier's family held a news conference about her return Wednesday morning. (WFSB photo) Justina Pelletier's family held a news conference about her return Wednesday morning. (WFSB photo)

A West Hartford teenager reunited with her family Wednesday.

A judge in Massachusetts issued a ruling about 15-year-old Justina Pelletier on Tuesday, ending a year-long custody battle between her family and the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

"She wants a hamburger on the grill, she wants to sit down and lay on the couch and watch a movie with the family," said Linda Pelletier, Justina's mother. "I think that's what she's going to aim for today."

The Pelletier family said they picked Justina up from a treatment facility in Thompson Wednesday morning before heading to West Hartford.

"I can't wait," Justina said Tuesday night. "I'm so happy to be home."

The joy in her voice was undeniable, and the same could be said for her family.

"We will definitely have the party of all parties, maybe at the convention center," said Lou Pelletier, Justina's father. "I don't know. There are so many people who would love to attend."

Lou Pelletier said he spent the morning preparing his house for his daughter's arrival.

The issue started in February 2013 when Massachusetts officials took the teen away from her parents while she was being treated in Boston. Certain doctors did not believe she was sick and accused the family of abuse.

Justina was first treated at Tufts Medical Center for mitochondrial disease. However, the family went to the Boston Children's Hospital where doctors rejected the diagnosis and said her problem was psychiatric.

When the Pelletiers tried to take their daughter back to Tufts, the Department of Children and Families stepped in and took custody.

Finally, after nearly a year and a half, a judge made the decision to free Justina. Her family said they're thankful it's over.

"Praise the Lord, she's coming home, no strings attached," said Lou Pelletier. "She's back to being part of the Pelletier family, and we can start to begin the healing process."

Lou Pelletier said the family wished to thank everyone who helped them along the way. However, he also said they'll remember those who they claim did not.

"Today is vindication," said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, the Pelletier family spokesperson. "This has been the most examined family in the state of Massachusetts and Connecticut and Justina is being released on the terms the Pelletiers have been asking for over a year."

Mahoney spoke at a 10 a.m. at the Susan Wayne Center in Thompson.

The family thanked the staff in Thompson and the Massachusetts Health and Human Services secretary for getting involved.

Justina, who uses a wheelchair now, will have her medical care remain under Tufts as part of the reunification plan. The Pelletiers said they will go to counseling and meet regularly with DCF.

The family said Justina was just home for a brief Father's Day visit on Sunday. Now, they said she's home for good.

"The biggest thing is this should have never happened," said Jennifer Pelletier, Justina's sister. "It should have never gone past day one. This shouldn't have happened to my little sister, it shouldn't happen to any child ever again."

Lou Pelletier told Eyewitness News that they are considering legal options.

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