A woman who fled with her 8-year-old daughter a decade ago during a custody dispute turned herself in Monday to face trial.
Genevieve Kelley of Whitefield, New Hampshire, disappeared with her daughter, Mary, into Central America in the fall of 2004 after her attempt to prove her ex-husband had harmed the child backfired.
The U.S. Marshals Service investigated numerous tips through the years. Shortly after her daughter turned 18 in February and was no longer subject to the family court, Kelley, 50, made contact. Her lawyer said she wanted to face a jury on her custodial interference charge. She said her daughter is safe.
Police felt Kelley’s ex-husband, Mark Nunes, was unfairly accused. He was never charged with a crime.
Kelley turned herself in Monday in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and was arrested, Deputy U.S. Marshal Jamie Berry said. He said her lawyer and Coos County Attorney John McCormick were arguing bail.
Mark Nunes hasn’t given up hope of being reunited with his daughter and hopes to learn more about her.
“Is she alive? Is she safe?” he said Monday.
It wasn’t immediately known if Mary Nunes was in the courtroom. In an interview last week, Kelley’s lawyer, Alan Rosenfeld, said his client would likely appear on her own first.
“She wants to be vindicated,” Alan Rosenfeld said. “She wants a trial.”
Rosenfeld, a Colorado attorney who specializes in child advocacy and domestic violence cases, had asked prosecutor McCormick twice this year if he would agree to recommend to a judge that Kelley voluntarily return and not be jailed unless she is convicted. He said she would not be a flight risk, but McCormick disagreed, noting she left in the middle of a family court proceeding in 2004.
“She fears there’s a chance she’ll be held, a fear that’s probably well founded,” McCormick had said.
Rosenfeld had said if things didn’t work out, “she’s just going to show up unannounced one day.”
Mary Nunes, presumably, would be a witness at the trial, he said.
“She was old enough to know what was going on,” he said.
Mary was 7 when her father last saw her.
“I am happy that Genevieve Kelley is in custody and will face justice for these charges, but we will all be the happiest, when we know Mary Nunes is safe,” U.S. Marshal David Cargill Jr. said.
In an emailed statement, Nunes said he is heartbroken about his daughter.
“We want to say publicly that we as Mary’s family love her, look forward to her coming home and to keep an open mind as we believe that she has been told falsehoods and misstatements on the events of her youth,” he said.