Globe and Mail

Ontario triplets found safe in Mexico

Canadian Press
The Globe and Mail
Monday, January 22, 2001

Toronto — Eight-year-old triplets allegedly abducted from their Stratford-area home Oct. 14 have been found in Mexico and reunited with their father, a television station reported Sunday night. Their mother, Carline Vandenelsen, 38, has surrendered to Mexican authorities and may be extradited to face abduction charges in Canada, CablePulse 24 reported.

"I think right now I'm just sort of numb," said Craig Merkley, father of eight-year-old Olivia, Peter and Greg, before boarding a Mexico-bound plane in Toronto. "It was a feeling of intense relief. Until I'm actually holding them in my arms I'm trying to hold my emotions in check."

Ms. Vandenelsen lost custody of the children to Mr. Merkley five years ago. The siblings had been living with Mr. Merkley when they were allegedly abducted from their grandmother's home near Stratford, Ont.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Ms. Vandenelsen's arrest October 18. After the abduction, she apparently tried to enter Panama, but was turned back. She then disappeared and hid somewhere in Mexico, the station reported.

Notices were posted in Mexico, the children's photographs appeared on television and in Canadian newspapers, and a Web site was set up to find them, but police had no leads until they were recently sighted in Acapulco.

The couple's children first made headlines on Jan. 1, 1993, when they became London, Ont.'s first city births of the new year. Two years later, the couple were separated and Mr. Merkley was granted custody.

The children are expected to return to Canada with their father shortly.

Stratford police Sergeant Robert Ash would not comment Sunday when asked whether Ms. Vandenelsen would be charged.

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