Globe and Mail

Mother of triplets returns to abduction charges

Canadian Press and Globe and Mail Update
The Globe and Mail
Friday, February 02


Carline Vandenelsen in custody

Toronto — The mother of eight-year-old triplets allegedly abducted in a three-month journey that took them to the Maritimes, Texas and Mexico flew back to Canada Friday night to face charges.

Carline Vandenelsen arrived from Mexico at Toronto's Pearson International Airport shortly after 8 p.m.. At 8:45 she was escorted to a green car by a female police officer. She was wearing her hair in a long braid and looked tired.

She made no comment as she was whisked away.

"She was turned over to two of our officers in Mexico [yesterday] morning," said Inspector John Hagarty of the Stratford, Ont., police force.

Ms. Vandenelsen was to be taken to Stratford, where her three children, Olivia, Gray and Peter Merkley, have been reunited with their father, Craig.

The 38-year-old woman will appear in a Stratford courtroom on Saturday to face parental abduction charges, Insp. Hagarty said.

Craig Merkley has had custody of the children since he and Ms. Vandenelsen separated five years ago. Last year, the courts reduced the mother's access to her children to every other Saturday.

Father and children were reunited late last month in Acapulco after the triplets were taken in by police and Canadian embassy officials three months after their disappearance.

Ms. Vandenelsen was taken into custody to await extradition.

The triplets returned to Canada on Jan. 22, and had a joyous reunion with friends and family. They returned to school last week.

The children were allegedly abducted Oct. 14 while on a supervised day visit with their mother.

Detectives said they chased dozens of tips and sightings of Ms. Vandenelsen, including a trail running from her mother's home in Stratford to Halifax and on to Central America.

In an interview from Acapulco last week, Ms. Vandenelsen said that she wouldn't fight extradition and was eager to return to Canada to tell her side of the story in court.

She added she was forced to act since the justice system didn't give her enough time with her children.

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