Man charged in kidnapping of stepdaughter, 13, and her infant son


October 13, 2016

Source: stltoday.com

A Madison County man captured in West Virginia last month and accused of abducting his 13-year-old stepdaughter and her infant son has been brought back to Illinois.

christopher-m-derleth

Christopher M. Derleth, 39, was being held in the Madison County Jail on Wednesday morning.

Authorities say Derleth was found by authorities in a rural part of West Virginia last month with his stepdaughter Katherine Derleth and her 3-week-old son. He waived extradition there and was returned to Illinois.

Derleth is being held in Madison County in lieu of $200,000 bail on charges of aggravated kidnapping and parental abduction.

Katherine and her baby had been reported missing from a foster home in rural Madison County on Sept. 17.

The next week, West Virginia police and Madison County deputies tracked down Derleth after he used a credit card at a convenience store. Katherine and the baby were with him. They were found on Sept. 24 in a remote campsite near Kayford, a small rural mining community more than 500 miles east of St. Louis.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that the girl and her son were in good condition. They are in protective custody.

Two weeks before the son was born, Christopher Derleth was barred by a court order from seeing his stepdaughter pending a criminal investigation in Bond County. His stepdaughter had lived with him before the order.

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Tearful mom pleads for return of abducted daughter


September 27, 2016

Source: timescolonist.com

Monday was Kaydance Etchells’ second birthday and her mother, Tasha Brown, had no idea where she was. Brown has not seen her daughter since May 7, the day before Brown’s estranged partner, Lauren Etchells, boarded a plane with Kaydance, travelling from Vancouver to London, England. Saanich police and international authorities are treating the case as a parental abduction.
tasha_brown

Saanich police, working with Interpol, have determined that Etchells, a dual Canadian and U.K. citizen, and Kaydance left England for France on May 22, but they have not been spotted since. It’s unclear where in Europe they might be as U.K. citizens can travel through Europe’s Schengen area without passport checks.

At a news conference at Saanich police headquarters, Brown made an emotional plea for Etchells to return to Canada with their daughter.

“Kaydance, I love you and I miss you and your love. Everyday I wonder where you are and I wonder if you are all right. I wonder if you’re walking more, if you’re talking more, if you’re laughing or crying. How much have you grown and what have you learned? If I had one birthday wish for you, Kaydance, it would be that you would be found and brought back to Canada,” Brown said. “Instead, her life is being hidden away, somewhere in the world.”

kaydance-lauren-and-tasha

Brown reported the suspected abduction on May 14 to Saanich police, the day after Etchells failed to bring Kaydance for her visitation. Brown went to Etchells’ parents house in Saanich and they said they couldn’t tell her where Kaydance was.

“I knew right then and there, by the look in her dad’s eyes and the shakiness in his voice, I knew she was gone,” Brown said.

Through the police investigation, Brown discovered that on May 8, Etchells, Kaydance, Etchells’ new partner, Marco van der Merwe, and their newborn child, Marcus, boarded WestJet Flight 22 from Vancouver to London Gatwick Airport.

“You can never begin to know the suffering of not knowing where your child is,” Brown said.

The same-sex couple married in August 2012 and, one year later, decided to have a child through the sperm donor process.

Kaydance was born Sept. 26, 2014, in Edmonton, where the couple were living at the time. An Alberta birth certificate originally listed both women as parents, but Brown said her name has been removed.

The couple separated in July 2015 and have been locked in a custody battle since.

Etchells, who gave birth to Kaydance, had full custody and Brown had visitation rights, but was fighting for joint custody.

Brown has had fears Etchells would leave the country with Kaydance since last year when she discovered Etchells bought one-way plane tickets for Qatar, where the couple previously lived. Brown hired a lawyer and, in August 2015, a provincial court order was issued stating that Etchells needed to surrender Kaydance’s U.K. passport and not apply for a Canadian passport or leave Vancouver Island.

Despite the court order, Etchells obtained a Canadian passport for Kaydance.

On May 19, Saanich police requested a warrant for Etchells’ arrest and on June 8, a Canada-wide warrant was issued. Etchells faces one count of abduction by a parent, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and two counts of disobeying a court order.

Brown addressed Etchells directly during the news conference, saying: “Lauren, this is not how I envisioned our separation. And although Kaydance is only two, this will without a doubt be something that will impact her future. As good parents I am begging you to work with me to ensure Kaydance’s best interest is our No. 1 priority and that she is part of both her parents’ lives.”

Saanich police do not believe Kaydance is at risk of physical harm.

Saanich police spokesman acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie said Etchells has taken away Kaydance’s freedom. “Kaydance will be unable to grow up knowing her mom and her family.”

Leslie was questioned as to why an Amber alert was not issued about a missing child and why it took more than four months to report the abduction publicly. Leslie said police have investigative avenues to follow before they make information public. He said police were also cautious not to broadcast the details in case Etchells was in Qatar, where same-sex marriage is illegal.

Brown said van der Merwe, the man who accompanied Etchells on the flight to London, was a friend of Etchells’ who had agreed to be a sperm donor for their second child. He is a South African national living in Qatar. “To be betrayed in such a way just added to my misery,” Brown said.

Investigators have contacted van der Merwe, who did not carry on to continental Europe with Etchells and the two children. He is believed to be back in Qatar and Leslie said when contacted he was “less than co-operative.”

Saanich police are asking anyone with information on the whereabouts of Etchells or Kaydance to call 1-888-980-1919 or anonymously through CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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Local father desperate after son is reportedly taken to Russia


September 23, 2016

Source: http://news10.com

A Queensbury man is raising awareness to a growing global issue of International Child Abduction. It happens when a child is wrongfully taken and held in another country by a parent.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon.

Corey McKeighan shares custody of his son Xavier with his mother who is from Russia.

Abducted_Russia

What was supposed to be a mother and son three week trip to her country, has McKeighan worried he will never get his son back.

Xavier is bright and full of energy. He just turned 4 on Monday.

“He was the best kid in the world. He was happy, he was funny.”

His ex-wife agreed to return on September 16th.

“The day before they were supposed to return, she had called me and said, ‘We’re not coming back and you’ll never see us again.’”

In a panic, McKeighan contacted the U.S. State Department, FBI, and congressional leaders. They are working with the foreign government to resolve this case that they say is international child abduction.

“It’s a gigantic problem,” International Family Law Attorney Jeremy Morley said.

Jeremy Morley

Morley has worked on hundreds of these types of cases. In Russia, it is difficult because our countries are not in a treaty relationship.

“We know that the Russian legal system is unpredictable. What I would do in a case like this is start the process by making contact with the taken parent and advising the taken parent of how dangerous their intended course of conduct is.”

Xavier was diagnosed with autism and his routine and treatment is back home in New York.

His father is still waiting to give his son a card for his 4th birthday.

“The first thing I would do is sing, ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ with him because that’s one of our favorite songs,” Corey said. “I feel like I keep hitting walls. I just keep seeing him in my heart and in my mind. It pushes me nonstop ever day, just trying to do what I can.”

A U.S. State Department official says:

“We are aware of the reports regarding an international parental child abduction case.  Due to privacy considerations, we decline to provide additional details.

One of the Department’s highest priorities is the welfare of U.S. citizens overseas. This is particularly true for children, who are among our most vulnerable citizens.  The Bureau of Consular Affairs, along with our Embassies and Consulates, works with parents and foreign governments to try to resolve these difficult cases. Generally speaking, in cases involving international parent-child abductions a U.S. Embassy or Consulate can facilitate contact with local authorities, provide information on local judicial and law enforcement processes, offer a list of attorneys and translators, and issue passports or other travel documents as appropriate under U.S law.”

McKeighan has created a Facebook Page to raise awareness of this global issue in the hopes of bringing Xavier back home to the United States.

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The Hague Convention: need of the hour


September 9, 2016

Source: http://dailytimes.com.pk

Throughout the world, the ‘best interests of the child’ is the gold standard by which courts make determinations on custody, visitation and relocation.

Parental Kidnapping Rescue abducted children recovery

A surge in transnational marriages has led to a corresponding surge in cases of international child abduction. In these cases one parent, unhappy with a court’s custody order, flees to another country with the child, and either attempts to have local courts issue a new custody order or simply goes into hiding with the child. There are never any winners in these heartbreaking cases; the children are denied the love and affection of both parents, and the parents spend years embroiled in venomous court battles.

To address the menace of child abduction, the international community formulated what is known as The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 1980. Through this instrument, member states agree to uphold existing custody orders from other jurisdictions, and to return children wrongfully removed from one country to another. The Hague Convention does recognise that in some cases a parent might be fleeing an abusive environment, resorting to abduction in an attempt to protect their child; local courts are given the authority to make appropriate determinations in these special cases. In a nutshell, The Hague Convention provides a reasonable remedy for the bad behaviour of parents engaging in the act of international child abduction.

International parental kidnapping cases have been quite prominent in media over the years, and protecting children is one benefit for Pakistan becoming a member of The Hague Convention. There is, however, another benefit that goes largely unnoticed by the authorities and media: by signing The Hague Convention, Pakistan will give courts throughout the world the confidence to allow law-abiding parents to relocate to Pakistan with
their children.

Throughout the world, the “best interests of the child” is the gold standard by which courts make determinations on custody, visitation and relocation. Given the trend of international marriages, courts have recognised that in many cases custodial parents may wish to move back to their home countries where they have family support, career opportunities, cultural ties, and facilities by which they can provide better lives for their children. However, before allowing an international relocation by one parent, the courts must be confident that the other parent will not be denied access to the children. The Hague Convention provides courts with this confidence.

pakistan Child Abduction

An alarming number of Pakistanis, mostly women, presently living abroad are denied the ability to move back home with their children because Pakistan is not a signatory to The Hague Convention. For the most part, Pakistani women move to foreign countries due to arranged marriages. When their marriages fall apart, these women who have no employable skills and limited finances find themselves abandoned by their spouses far from their families and homeland. To make matters worse, foreign courts will not allow them to move their children to Pakistan, leaving them with no choice but to live off the charity of others in foreign countries. The plight of these desperate Pakistani women and their children will undoubtedly improve when Pakistan becomes a member of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

I hope Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz take notice of such situation, and initiate the much needed step of becoming the member of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It is responsibility of the state to ensure justice for its citizens not only in the boundaries of the state and all over the world.

The Hague Convention does not alter any substantive rights. The Convention requires that a court in which a Hague Convention action is filed should not consider the merits of any underlying child custody dispute, but should determine only that country in which those issues should be heard. Return of the child is to the member country rather than specifically to the left-behind parent.

Until March this year, more than 94 countries including, United States, China, Germany, France, Canada and Australia are party to the convention, and even India has been the signatory of Convention since 2008.

Mr Prime Minister, when all our major neighbours and important countries of the world are the signatories to this important convention, why not Pakistan. Isn’t this a lack of interest in the welfare of overseas Pakistanis who send millions of dollars to Pakistan every year?

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Mom Says She Abducted Daughters to Protect Them


June 9, 2016

Source: Independent.com

Last spring, Michelle Gibbs and her two young daughters disappeared.

Michelle Gibbs

They vanished after a court hearing where Gibbs’s ex-husband was granted visitation rights in the midst of a bitter custody dispute. All efforts to find the Orcutt mother and her children failed, so Santa Barbara County law enforcement issued a media advisory seeking the public’s help, including toothy yearbook photos of the girls and a DMV picture of Gibbs.

Detectives said Gibbs — a county planner and biologist from 2004 to 2011 — did not have a history of violence, but they had reason to fear for the safety of Gabriella, 6, and Cassidy, 4.

Six months later, Gibbs surrendered herself and her daughters to the U.S. consulate on the southern tip of Baja California Sur. She was extradited back to Santa Barbara, where prosecutors charged her with felony child abduction. Little more was said about the case that had generated so much public attention and become a priority for the Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices. Authorities declined to release details on their investigation; Gibbs’s motivations remained a mystery.

As part of a plea deal, Gibbs, 44, was sentenced last Wednesday to three months of probation and 120 days of either electronic monitoring or participation in the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program. If she complies with the terms of her probation, the felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanour. Though many facts of the case remain irresolute, newly released court documents start to explain why Gibbs, in her own words, “absolutely panicked” the day she filled her car with belongings, pulled the girls out of school, and fled to Mexico.

gibbs-family-Michelle

According to a pre-plea report filed in April by the county’s Probation Department, Gibbs’s daughters confided in her on Christmas Eve 2014 that their father had been sexually abusing and threatening them. They repeated the accusations a number of times over the coming months, sometimes in front of Gibbs’s parents, and began acting out in disturbing and violent ways. One afternoon, Gabriella tried to run in front of a moving car.

Gibbs reported the allegations to the Sheriff’s Office and Child Welfare Services (CWS). An investigation was launched, and Gibbs filed for a temporary restraining order against her ex-husband, whom she had divorced a year and a half earlier. During their marriage, she worked while he was a stay-at-home dad. In her written statements to the court, Gibbs described him as a “good person” and an “excellent father,” except when he lost his temper.

Sheriff’s detectives conducted two forensic interviews with Gibbs’s daughters, but they didn’t repeat their accusations. At the time, their father refused to take a polygraph test. Soon after, the girls disclosed to a counselor with CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) that they were being harmed. They drew detailed pictures depicting where and how. At a court hearing on February 19, 2015, to uphold or deny the restraining order, Gibbs’s attorney subpoenaed the CALM counselor to testify, but she declined, invoking her “privilege of confidentiality,” according to court records. In a written declaration, Gibbs’s father, who had allegedly heard some of the girls’ incriminating statements against their father, expressed surprise and frustration that investigators had not interviewed him for his corroborating testimony.

Gibbs’s ex-husband has continually and forcefully denied his daughters’ allegations. He has not been charged with any crimes in the case, and the investigation — which included a polygraph test he later agreed to and passed, as well as multiple interviews with coworkers, family, and friends — has been closed. His attorney, Daniel Murphy, said in an email, “This matter has been dealt with in the courts. Judge [Timothy] Staffel found no evidence to corroborate or substantiate Ms. Gibbs’s allegations against Mr. Gibbs.”

When Gibbs learned during the February 19 hearing that the restraining order would likely be lifted the following week, she said she was terrified. “I felt [my daughters] had slipped through the legal cracks and that no one was going to be able to protect them,” Gibbs wrote in a statement in the probation report. “I made a decision to protect them and that I would not let them be put in harm’s way.”

On February 26, after the restraining order was lifted for lack of evidence, Gibbs spirited south with the children. They drove 1,200 miles to Cabo San Lucas, where Gibbs rented an apartment. She enrolled her daughters in a bilingual school and made a modest living as a freelance travel writer. She planned to remain until the girls turned 18. She told them their father had died.

But as the months ticked by, Gibbs’s “guttural fear” gave way to logic. She realized her choice to flee would mean living illegally in Mexico for the rest of their lives. “Therefore, I made the decision to return, which was the hardest decision I ever made in my life.” In her statements to the court, she expressed remorse for her actions and said she would abide by the decision of detectives to close the case against her former husband. “I know that I am not above the law,” she wrote. “I was just consumed by fear and confused by the law.”

Upon their return to Orcutt, Gibbs’s daughters were placed in the sole custody of their father. She now sees them once a week during supervised visits. They have made no further accusations against him and appear to be doing well, Gibbs noted, and they participate in regular therapy sessions. She told the court she is seeing a counselor herself and finding constructive ways of moving forward with her personal relationships and career. And she said she trusts the “fair and cautious” investigators who remain abreast of the case. Nevertheless, she noted, “I am watching the girls closely.”

In his own letter to the court ahead of Gibbs’s sentencing last week, her ex-husband asked for a much stiffer penalty than what was ultimately handed down. He said Gibbs deserved at least six months in prison, “the amount of time she fled to Mexico with the girls when no one knew where they were.” He claimed her actions destroyed his and his kids’ lives. “I want the DA to enforce the law and to prosecute to the fullest extent, because if the shoe was on the other foot, I would be going to prison no matter how much you try to convince me you treat everyone equally.” Probation officials argued Gibbs’s case didn’t merit a prison term, considering her clean record and the circumstances of her crime.

“Ms. Gibbs has done an incredible job dealing with an impossible situation,” said her attorney, Danielle De Smeth this week. “She left everything behind to do what she believed necessary to protect her daughters.” De Smeth acknowledged that Gibbs shouldn’t have fled, but she said her client is now working hard to “make the most of a tragic situation.” In July, Gibbs will apply for unsupervised visitation with her daughters. The eventual goal, De Smeth said, is to get back to shared custody.

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My daughters were abducted to Dubai – and I won them back under Sharia Law


June 5, 2016

Source: sbs.com.au/

Michelle’s daughters were both under four when their father abducted them to Dubai. She describes her monumental effort over five years to win them back in a foreign court system.
michelle_dubai_1

When my husband left with my girls, my world was without purpose. My family was my world.

Family Services in Australia told me that there was no agreement with the United Arab Emirates [UAE], and that the only way I would see my girls again was to go there myself. They could not help me.

I was very successful in my career as a university lecturer at Queensland University of Technology. I ran a successful training business, we had a mortgage, a house, a car – but my family was everything to me.

Ostensibly, I saved face with family and friends as much as possible. I didn’t want them to know there was anything wrong.  I was successful, I knew how to be successful. I didn’t know how to fail at anything.

I always believed I could, I never believed I couldn’t.  I had been brought up in a Christian family, we had faith: I was strong, I could do this.

My husband got his job at a women’s college in the UAE on the premise he was a family man so our three visas were all on his visa.  We were dependents to him.  This was a blessing as it meant I had a visa and a ticket to the UAE even though he did not want me to come and didn’t send the paperwork to me.

I appealed to him that the girls needed to know their mother, but to no avail – he kept stalling.  With only 48 hours left before I was due to travel, I contacted his work, where fortunately an incredibly helpful woman sent through the paperwork to me immediately, quite angry with my husband that he had not done this for his wife!  So thankfully I was able to go and live and work in the UAE.

When I arrived, I could not get a phone, a drivers license or a lease without my husband’s written permission (which he would not give me) and under Sharia Law, daughters automatically go with the father/husband. Traditionally it is believed he can look after daughters best, as a provider and a father figure.

Early in our marriage, we had agreed that any disagreement was ours, and that the girls would be protected from distress caused by adult altercations.

This meant that my husband and I did our fighting through the court.  Yes I got angry.  No I did not agree with him, but I would not fight with him in front of the girls.  So I got my own flat and ending up getting my own visa, which took nine months after arriving in the UAE.

Michelle-Ebonyi-Mia

We filed for divorce in the Dubai Court, which he was very confident he would win.  He was the man, so in Dubai he had to pay for both of our court fees: the man was the one who was considered responsible for his family.

Over the ensuing five years I stood in the court every 2 weeks to fight for custody under Sharia Law. Twice I won and twice my husband appealed, so for the divorce, and both appeals, I showed that I was the better carer, and I won custody each time.

To complicate things, we both re-married in Dubai within a few months of each other.  Although it seemed a good decision at the time that would help my custody case, in retrospect it wasn’t.  However, life is full of twists and turns; we don’t always make straight-line decisions, and life does not solve things as they do in a half hour TV show.

I am glad I followed the law, even though it meant every 2 weeks in the court.  I am glad I never saw myself as a victim, and I never portrayed to the girls that we were victims of anything.  My attitude has always been: “you got yourself here gal, now you get yourself out”.  Full responsibility, no blame, no victim mentality; work it out, communicate, do the right thing.

It has been a blessing looking back, that we fought in the court. We had to jointly manage the girls, we both organised their birthday parties, for the first couple of years.

I wanted them to know their father, and I didn’t want them to ask me why I took them away too young to remember him.  I always spoke well of their father to them, even though at times, that was difficult, I never used them as a weapon.  Even to this day, I always put their father in a positive light.

I also didn’t want to have to repeat the process and do everything again once I returned to Australia.  I did not want to win the fight in Dubai, and then have another court battle when I returned to Australia.  My goal was to do this once, properly, legally, and then to come home for good.  I was patient and successful in all my goals.

For the first few years when we returned to Australia, I wept every Sunday in church, just loving the hymns, the sermons, the security of being home and the realisation of how it could have gone.  I never let myself think of the alternative. I knew I would only return legally with my girls in my custody.

My girls are lovely inside and out.  They are responsible and well-balanced.  Ebonyi, the younger one, was very clingy to me for many years, as she was separated from me at three and a half years of age.  Many people have mentioned to me over the years, “Wow, they are so balanced, you wouldn’t know they’re from a broken home.”

After we returned to Australia, the girls and I became a foster family and over seven years we fostered approximately 34 children, some for a weekend, some for over a year.  This gave us all a huge job to do.  I had no money, but I had time. We had a family of three so we could give back to the community as I was so happy and thankful for what I had.  It gave the girls company as kids, community support at times, and stopped us thinking about ourselves as we served the community instead.

Personally, I came back to Australia broke – financially and emotionally.  It took me years to re-build my strength. Sometimes I cannot believe what I went through actually happened. I have never seen myself as a victim, only as making bad decisions at times.  But I have raised two wonderful girls, and we live in Australia, so we have everything to be thankful for.

Michelle and her daughters Mia and Ebonyi are guests on this week’s episode of Insight, looking at how the children are affected in cases of international parental abduction. 

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Child abduction suspects to be deported


February 11, 2016

Source: in-cuprus.com

Note: These men do not have any connection to ABP World Group™

Three Norwegian men – who police said had arrived in Cyprus to abduct a toddler – may be expelled from Cyprus as early as Friday morning.

ABDUCTION-ESPEN-LEE-1

The three men – one which was named in Norwegian media as well known former mercenary Espen Lee – were arrested earlier this month and detained in police custody on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and attempting to abduct a girl of three.

The case concerns a custody battle between a woman from Nicosia and a Norwegian man who was said by the media in the Scandinavian country to have paid the trio to fly to Cyprus and snatch back the girl.

Nicosia CID investigators recently handed the case file to Attorney General Costas Clerides who deemed the evidence and witness statements “too weak” to hold up in court.

This in turn has prompted the Legal Services to immediately call on the police to deport the three individuals from the island as soon as they are released from custody.

A police source on Thursday told the Cyprus Weekly said after the court had given the green light for the three’s deportation and that all that remained was getting them on the next available flight. This, the sources said, could be as early as Friday morning. The three men will remain in custody until their flight, the source confirmed.

Espen_Lie

A 38-year-old Filipino woman – who investigators say had handed information to the father back in Norway as to the movements of the young girl and his estranged wife – will also be deported according to the same source. They were not able to say exactly when this was expected to take place.

The arrest of the men had made front page news in Norway while Lee – who once famously claimed to have killed over a hundred men during his days as a mercenary in Africa – had maintained his innocence saying that he had arrived in Cyprus, via the Turkish Cypriot airport in Tympou (Ercan), to collect the father’s car “and take it to England”.

He also described his arrest as “surreal” adding that he didn’t know why the Norwegian police had flagged the police in Cyprus.

Read: To recover an abducted child by force should always be the last solution

 

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