Father of Kidnapped Mo. Children Found in Fla. Supermarket Says They're 'Still in Shock'

Brooke and Adrian Gilley were reunited with their father on Friday after having been reported missing in March

The father of the two Missouri children, who had been found inside a Florida supermarket after allegedly being abducted by their noncustodial mother, is speaking out.

Blake Gilley, 38, gave an update to NBC News on how his two children, Brooke and Adrian Gilley, were doing following the incident after reuniting with them on Friday.

"They are still in shock," he said. "You can see this is bothering them."

Police found Kristi Nicole Gilley and the two kids — who had been reported missing in Missouri mid-March 2022 — after conducting a routine vehicle tag in the parking lot of a supermarket in Winn-Dixie in High Springs, Florida. Police were alerted that she had been a fugitive, and they promptly detained and arrested Gilley on an active kidnapping warrant.

Blake told NBC News he had been "terrified and freaked out" when his children were reported missing, adding, "I didn't know where they are. … That's the biggest fear in the world."

The two children reportedly gave their father some insight into how their life has been over the past year since the alleged kidnapping. According to NBC News, he said that the kids had been kept out of school after they were reported missing and had avoided detection by moving from one Airbnb to another in different states.

Brooke and Adrian Gilley; Kristi Nicole Gilley
High Springs Police Department (3)

He also said that his children told him that they were mainly kept indoors, and when they had to go out publicly, they were warned not to speak with others or look anyone in the eyes.

"Kristi would never tell them what town they were in or anything," Blake said. "If they were in a car, they had to keep their heads down. My son still does that."

He went on to note that his son, who has Down syndrome, will still often "just look at the ground," but is "getting better now."

"I've been telling him, 'Hey, you're good, buddy, look up,' " he said.

Blake added that he wants to get his children back in school and get them some counseling "to give them a fighting chance in life."

Kristi Nicole Gilley
High Springs Police Department

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Kristi pleaded not guilty on Friday. Her lawyer, Maurice McDaniel told NBC News that she denied all those allegations.

McDaniel has not yet responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.

According to Blake, he and Kristi divorced in 2016, but she had disappeared before resolving a custody dispute over the children, per NBC.

The news site obtained court documents out of Clay County, Missouri that said that Blake and Kristi had a joint custody agreement prior to April 14 out of Randall County, Texas, but that he eventually was granted sole custody after she didn't make an appearance in court.

The report said, per NBC News: "Kristi had been making it increasingly more difficult for Blake to visit or speak to the children for quite some time, and had refused to let Blake visit or speak to the children at all, since 3/15/2022."

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