March 9 , 2015
In November of 2009, Jo had been in a two year tumultuous and volatile relationship with the child’s father who was from West Sacramento. This included one incident of domestic violence which was never reported to the police. Jo testified in court that this was the only time that he physically put his hands on her. The father lived with Jo and their baby for six months.
After their final break-up, Jo took their 14 month-old child and returned to South Korea while the father was attempting to get her to attend Family Law court in Sacramento to establish joint custody and a visitation schedule. The Yolo County Child Abduction Unit was asked to assist and e-mailed Jo informing her of her need to appear in Court and sent her copies of the court paperwork. Child Abduction Unit staff offered Jo options for interpreter services and a direct line telephone number to the court clerk so that she could appear by telephone. On January 14, 2010 Jo responded in an email that she could not show up for court because her “status” for staying in the United States had expired and therefore “this month I have to leave this country.”
Child Abduction Unit staff learned a few weeks later at the time Jo had written that e-mail, she had already been in Korea for two months. Jo broke off communications with the Child Abduction Unit after Jan. 28, 2010. After being tracked to Korea, Jo refused a requested welfare check with the child, an American citizen, by the U.S. Consulate in Seoul. Jo deprived the father of any contact with his child, including telling the child she was “special” and didn’t have a father, for nearly five years until her arrest in July, 2014 when she attempted to re-enter the United States in Hawaii.
During the nearly five year abduction the Yolo County Child Abduction Unit worked to try and locate the mother and child after Jo broke off communications. At the time of the abduction back in 2009, South Korea was not a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, the civil remedy by which many internationally abducted children are returned.
The child and mother were placed on “watch” lists with Interpol and the State Department in an effort to track them should they ever leave South Korea. On July 19, 2014, U.S. Customs officials notified the Yolo County Child Abduction Unit that Jo and the child were on an inbound flight to Hawaii. Child Abduction Unit staff, with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and authorities in Hawaii, set up Korean language counseling services for the child to help with the reunification process with the father. After a three day unification process with the child in Hawaii, the father returned with his daughter and brought her to the Family Court in Sacramento that had issued a Protective Custody Warrant for the child. The father and the child attend court ordered therapy sessions with a Korean speaking counselor on a weekly basis.
Jo remains in custody in the Yolo County jail on an Immigration hold pending sentencing. Her sentencing is set for April 1, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in Dept. 4 before the Honorable David Rosenberg.