Kids taken from McCollum Ranch reunited with family

December 29, 2018 GMT

One week after being taken by the Department of Social Services, a Harnett County woman was reunited with her children on Friday.

On Dec. 2, Gwendolyn Hall said she was watching her grandchildren at her home at the McCollum Ranch while their mother was at a job interview.

The McCollum Ranch in Godwin is named for John McCollum, who led his own “alternative religious group” which operated several John C’s Fish Markets and mobile grills in Cumberland County. Adults in the group were charged with forcing children of the group, some as young as 9 years old, to work full time in the fish markets with little or no compensation, lifting heavy boxes, keeping fish iced, cutting fish and cleaning, as well as performing construction and maintenance on the mobile grills after hours, authorities said.

McCollum and nine others were arrested in January, following an 11-month investigation. He was charged with operating a continuing criminal enterprise, involuntary servitude of a minor, obtaining property by false pretense and conspiracy.

Hall said 30 minutes after her daughter, the children’s mother Adrieanna Hall, left, armed sheriff’s deputies and DSS workers conducted a raid at her home. However, Sheriff Ennis Wright said it was not a raid. He said the operation was planned by the Department of Social Services and that his deputies were there at DSS’s request.

Hall was reunited with her two children on Friday after it was confirmed they do not live at the McCollum Ranch.

Three other children, who were taken from a different family, are still in the care of Social Services.