Mother accused of international parental kidnapping back home


June 16, 2015

Source: The Clarion-Ledger

A mother accused of kidnapping her son and fleeing to Egypt is back in the states and charged with international parental kidnapping.

Jennifer Michelle Houff

On Monday, Jennifer Houff, 38, had her initial appearance in U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Ball’s courtroom, charged in the international kidnapping of her son, Blake Cleveland. She was released to the custody of her parents on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Houff is accused of disappearing with her son in March 2012, when he was 13, and eventually fleing with him to Egypt. According to her testimony in court, she returned Saturday.

Ball said Houff will have to report to the federal courthouse in Jackson on Wednesday to receive a GPS device that will keep up with her whereabouts. She is restricted to her parents’ home and must call her probation officer every day, Ball told her.

Houff’s attorney, John Colette, said Cleveland, now 16, is accounted for.

“We know where Blake is, and we’re going to defend these charges. She agreed to come back and resolve this thing,” Colette said. “A lot of time has gone by under the bridge, about three and a half years since the last hearing.”

Egypt_Child_Abduction

Asked whether there were amicable relations between Houff and Blake’s father’s side of the family, Colette said, “At this point I don’t have comments about this. We’re just glad to get her out on bond.”

Colette said Houff will seek employment as she awaits further court proceedings. She is required to stay in the state and report any relocation or new phone numbers to her probation officer. She also is required to turn in her passport and is prohibited from using alcohol and drugs or dealing with guns and other weapons.

Cleveland’s father, Danny Cleveland, has maintained blogs and social media sites asking for help in bringing his son home. His family was on hand Monday but would not comment, citing the investigation.

“As a family, we are relieved to have Blake back home,” Danny Cleveland said.

A federal warrant was issued for Houff in 2014.

The Jackson office of the FBI worked with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department through the FBI Legal Attache office in Cairo, Egypt, and the Justice and State departments to locate Houff.

“The far-reaching resources of the FBI and the Department of Justice were instrumental in locating and facilitating the safe return of both the accused and the victim, said Donald Alway, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi.

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