Mom uses Facebook to find, reunite with kidnapped kids

A California woman whose ex-husband fled with her then two and three-year old children will be reunited with the now-teenagers after she located one of the children on Facebook.

The woman, who has not been named, said her husband “disappeared” from San Bernardino, California, where the family lived, taking the two small children with him and threatening that he would stop her from ever seeing them again. In the fifteen years since, the woman has had no contact with her children, but recently tried searching for the kids on Facebook. The mother found and contacted her now 17-year-old daughter through Facebook, but the teenager said she wanted “nothing to do” with her mother and deleted her Facebook page. Police in central Florida, where the children were living, investigated and arrested the woman’s ex-husband, Faustino Utrera. Custody of the girl and her 16-year-old brother initially defaulted to Florida’s social services department before it was awarded to the children’s mother.

Carrie Hoeppner, of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, commented on the challenges facing the family after fifteen years without contact between the mother and her teenage children:

“There is no relationship there,” Hoeppner said. “You don’t have that immediate joyful reunification. If in fact that is what will progress, it will take time. These children will have to build a relationship, and that is something that will not happen overnight.”

The children are expected to be returned to California “soon.”

[WESH via Gizmodo]