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Custody Hearing Scheduled for Mindy McCready’s Sons

Mindy McCready
Brad Barket, Getty Images

In the wake of country star Mindy McCready‘s tragic death on Sunday (Feb. 17), a hearing has been scheduled to determine custody of her two sons. It looks like a legal war may be brewing between her mother and her former boyfriend — both of whom have been accused of abuse in the past.

The troubled 37-year-old singer took her own life with a single gunshot wound to the head, leaving behind 6-year-old Zander and 10-month-old Zayne. Zayne’s father was producer David Wilson, whose gunshot death last month is still being investigated. Zander’s father is Billy McKnight, McCready’s ex-boyfriend, who lost custody of his son to McCready just months before her death after years of back-and-forth battling in the courts.

McCready and McKnight had a rocky relationship that included a May 2005 incident in which he was arrested after he broke into her home and attempted to strangle her. She became pregnant with Zander during a brief reconciliation two months later, but both she and McKnight were so consumed by troubles with addiction and legal woes that custody of the boy eventually went to McCready’s mother, Gayle Inge.

In a twist more bizarre than any movie, McCready later stole her own son from her mother and stepfather, whom she claimed were abusing him. McCready often attributed many of her own issues to the way she claimed her mother emotionally abused her growing up, and she alleged her mother and stepfather were not only hitting Zander, they were also raising him in an unhealthy environment dominated by their unusual, extreme religious beliefs. “My mother believes she is a prophet sent from God,” she said. “They see people in their home all the time — spirits, demons.”

Of course, 10-month-old Zayne has lost both of his parents in the last month. At the moment both children are in foster care in Arkansas, where they have been since authorities took them from McCready after she was ordered into a treatment facility to undergo a psychological evaluation earlier this month.

McKnight filed for full custody of his son after Wilson’s death, citing his concern for Zander’s safety. In an interview on Monday (Feb. 19), he said he’d like to gain custody of both Zander and Zayne. “I’d like to keep those boys together and try to turn my son’s life around,” McKnight told the ‘Today’ show. “He’s had a rough first six years and he deserves better than this. My heart’s broken for him right now, I’m very worried.”

People magazine reports that a hearing is set for April 5 to determine custody of the boys. According to that report, the Department of Human Services told Circuit Judge Lee Harrod that the Inges might be a better fit as custodial guardians for the children, since they have “a substantial relationship” with Zander.

Next: See a Timeline of Mindy McCready's Life

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