Toronto Star

Feb. 2, 09:47 EDT

Triplets' mother returns to face charges

Woman who took kids to Mexico lands at Pearson

The Toronto Star

STRATFORD (CP) - The mother of eight-year-old triplets allegedly abducted in a three-month journey that took them to the Maritimes, Texas and Mexico returned to Canada on Friday night to face charges.

Carline Vandenelsen arrived at Toronto's Pearson International Airport from Mexico at about 9 p.m.

''She was turned over to two of our officers in Mexico (Friday) morning,'' said Inspector John Hagarty of the Stratford, Ont., police force.

Vandenelsen was met by police officers and was to be transported immediately to Stratford, where her three children, Olivia, Gray and Peter Merkley, have been reunited with their father, Craig.

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

Craig Merkley has had custody of the children since he and Vandenelsen separated five years ago. Last year, the courts reduced Vandenelsen'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.

Vandenelsen was taken into custody to await extradition.

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

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

Detectives said they chased dozens of tips and sightings of 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, Vandenelsen told the National Post 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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