NM mom jailed for overdue 'Twilight' library book

June 29, 2012 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman was arrested and spent a night in jail for not returning the book “Twilight” and two-DVD set “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” back to the Portales Public Library on time.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( ) that Lori Teel was arrested and handcuffed at her Portales home in front of her five small children earlier this month because of $35.98 worth of library materials allegedly not returned since 2010.

The overdue library fine led to a summons for Teel to appear in Portales Municipal Court, according to a tort claim notice sent to the Portales city clerk on Monday. A municipal court judge issued warrants for Teel’s arrest [auth] last year after she failed to appear in court.

But her attorney said arrest warrants were mailed last year to an address at which Teel hadn’t lived since childhood.

Teel was arrested June 12 by officers investigating a disturbance, according to her attorney, Eric Dixon, of Portales. Teel said officers arrived at Teal’s home that evening in response to allegations that her husband had assaulted someone.

While there, officers realized there was a warrant for her arrest.

“Honestly, it was awful,” Teel said of the arrest and her night in the Roosevelt County Detention Center. “For me, it was very awful because I have never been in trouble for anything in my life.”

Her children, ages 1 to 10, stayed in a neighbor’s home until Teel was released the following morning on $610 bond.

“My kids are still very emotional,” Teel said. “They had to stay with a complete stranger. My 3-year-old is traumatized over it. She will not leave my side.”

Dixon sent letters to Portales and Roosevelt County officials on Tuesday alerting them that Teel plans to file legal action for the arrest.

Court records show that her husband, Jimmy Teel, was arrested June 12 on charges of aggravated battery and tampering with evidence. Lori Teel said she didn’t know details about the alleged crime.

Library records show that Lori Teel checked out “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” a two-DVD set, and “Twilight,” a novel by Stephenie Meyer, with a due date of Oct. 5, 2010.

A summons was issued in March 2011, ordering Teel to appear in Municipal Court in response to the outstanding library fines, court records show.

City Manager Tom Howell told The Associated Press the city doesn’t usually go after residents with overdue books. “However after we’ve given someone ample time to return a book, we hand the case over to a judge,” he said.

After Teel failed to show up for the court hearing, she was found in contempt and an arrest warrant was issued, he said.

Howell, who has worked for the city for 14 years, said he could only recall one other time when an arrest warrant was issued in connection with an overdue book.

A judge subsequently issued two warrants for Teel’s arrest in April and May last year, but the summons and warrants were returned to the court as undeliverable, Dixon said.

Portales City Attorney Stephen Doerr dismissed charges against Lori Teel on Monday, Municipal Court records show.

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