Two missing Minnesota sisters who accused their father of physical and emotional abuse, then ran away months before the courts granted him full custody, have been found after two years.
The missing sisters were discovered Wednesday and will now be reunited with the man they’ve accused of abuse. Their mother, who allegedly helped the girls flee in the middle of a custody battle, is in jail. Samantha and Gianna Rucki, now 17 and 16, were spotted on a horse farm in western Minnesota, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Their father, David Rucki, received the call that the girls had been found about 1:30 p.m. and has since been working on finding a place for them to stay until they all can be reunited. He’d long denied abusing his daughters and claimed at their mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, had turned them against him, People added.
During a contentious custody battle for the missing sisters, when they were 14 and 13 years old, a psychologist agreed, declaring that Sandra had brainwashed Samantha and Gianna. They ran away in April, 2013, and in November, the court granted David full custody and determined that there was no credible evidence of abuse.
Now that the Minnesota sisters have finally been located, there’s no indication whether the missing girls still contend that their father was abusive. They were found inside a home on a horse farm called White Horse Ranch “safe and in seemingly good health.”
Police arrived there Wednesday to execute a search warrant looking for information about Samantha and Gianna, KARE reported. Authorities were led there after searching the home of a woman named Dede Evavold. That woman is a supporter of the “Protective Parent” movement, which believes the family court system is broken and, instead of protecting children from abusive parents, more often awards them custody.
The truth behind the missing girls’ flight was slowly revealed through the testimony of a man who claimed to be a witness the day they disappeared. Dale Nathan, who’s criticized family courts and is a suspended attorney, said their mother picked the sisters up that day in her car, and he drove around with all three of them for up to three hours before he was dropped off.
Grazzini-Rucki was arrested last month in Florida and extradited to Minnesota, where she remains in jail on $1 million bail. She has been charged with three counts of felony deprivation of parental rights. Before then, in April, she denied helping her daughters run away and provided no information about their whereabouts, leaving police at a standstill.
Then came the discovery at Evavold’s house that led police to suspect an underground network was hiding the missing Minnesota sisters and headed to the horse ranch. And perhaps their mother was so closed-lipped because she didn’t want the girls to be found, according to claims by her attorney.
The place where the Minnesota sisters were living describes itself as a nonprofit organization that helps abused kids heal through interaction with horses. It’s not clear how long the girls were there. The owner is a woman named Gina Dahlen, a former pharmaceutical sales rep who left her job to start the ranch. A neighbor, Kari Hagstrom, knows Gina and her husband Doug, and described them as religious, kind, and generous.
“They would be the last people I would suspect of having any nefarious doings. I imagine they were trying to help someone out and not cause more harm.”
Before Wednesday, no one had reported seeing the missing teens in public since they ran away. Four hours after police arrived and discovered them at White Horse Ranch, the Minnesota sisters left in the back of a squad car, covered in a blanket.
“The sisters will return to Dakota County, (Minnesota) where the unification process can begin,” said the Lakeville Police Department. “Both the Dakota County Attorney’s Office and the Lakeville Police Department ask for respect and privacy of the Rucki family during the reunification period.”
[Photo by Franconia Film GbR/Shutterstock]