NCMEC - FBI Recovers Abducted Child Taken Overseas:
Missing Children Success Stories October 2012
FBI Recovers Abducted Child Taken Overseas and Missing for 12 Years
After a 12-year quest, a New York father has been reunited with his daughter, who was taken overseas by her mother when she was 2 years old. The mother has been charged with international kidnapping.
Over the years, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) worked closely with the father and the FBI to get publicity for the case in the hopes that someone might know their whereabouts. The case was featured on television shows, including "America's Most Wanted" and "Without a Trace."
Viewers tuning into Univision, a Spanish language television network, also heard about the case. It was featured in an edition of the best-selling book, "Lovely Bones," and a poster of the mother and child were prominently displayed in New York’s Times Square. The FBI believed mother and child were in Europe, but despite hundreds of leads, their location could not be learned.
Then, two years ago, a new FBI agent was assigned to the then 10-year-old case. It was always suspected that the mother’s family, living in the United States, knew her whereabouts and were in contact with her. The mother was known to suffer from stress and other emotional disorders, which concerned agents not only for her safety, but also the child’s. The agent began talking to the family. He encouraged them to provide him with information about the child’s location and to have the mother contact him. At first, family members said they did not know where they were. Undaunted, the agent worked to gain the family’s trust.
Finally, on Aug. 20, he received a call from the mother. She said she had been living with her daughter in Spain, and had been using an alias. Having an alias hampered both her ability to get assistance for basic needs from Spanish officials and to return to the United States, she said. The mother eventually agreed to return home, and the agent coordinated with embassy officials and NCMEC to fly them into JFK International Airport on Sept. 5.
With the help of trained professionals, who help with the often-difficult reunification process, the father was reunited with his daughter, now 14 years old.