Edmonton Sun

Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Triplets are home


STRATFORD, Ont. --  A sense of relief swept through this southwestern Ontario community yesterday as eight-year-old triplets who were taken from their father more than three months ago arrived in Toronto.

Peter, Gray and Olivia Merkley arrived at Pearson International Airport last night with their father, Craig Merkley.

"I think the most important thing is for the Merkley children to know just how happy we are to see them," said Fred Anderson, Hamlet public school principal.

"They have been through a lot and there will be a big welcome."

The children's mother, Carline Vandenelsen, 38, was in police custody in Acapulco, Mexico. Police said they tracked her and the children there through the U.S. over the weekend.

The triplets were first reunited with their father in Acapulco after being taken in by police and Canadian Embassy officials.

"It was like a shock," an exhausted Craig Merkley said yesterday of the emotional reunion. "We haven't been able to digest it."

The dramatic arrest of his estranged wife marks the end of a 14-week nightmare for Merkley, who has had custody of the children since he and Vandenelsen separated five years ago.

Copyright © 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.