The wife of the 45-year-old Pennsylvania man who allegedly ran off to Mexico with a 16-year-old girl is speaking out, saying she tried to stop her husband from having contact with the girl.
“I did reach out to her mother, just saying I didn’t want [her] around as much, around my family and my children,” Stacey Esterly told Good Morning America Monday.
“We thought the communication had stopped back in February,” she said, adding, “I never had any inkling it would lead up to this.”
On March 5, Stacey’s husband, Kevin Esterly, and family friend Amy Yu went missing, sparking an international manhunt and worrying Stacey and the couple’s four daughters.
“My children would cry every night asking, ‘When is daddy coming home?’” Stacey said.
After a nearly two-week search, authorities found the teen and the father-of-four on March 17 in the coastal resort town of Playa del Carmen, according to a statement from the Allentown Police Department obtained by PEOPLE.
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Esterly was taken into custody and flown to Miami, where he was held until Sunday, at which point he was extradited to Allentown.
He has been charged with interfering with the custody of a child — a third-degree felony — and is being held in Lehigh County Jail on $500,000 bond, online court records show.
If convicted, he would be ordered to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
‘Where [Are] He and Amy and What Are They Doing?’
Recalling the day Esterly vanished, Stacey said nothing seemed amiss when she kissed him goodbye when she left the house.
“He said, ‘Have a great day at work. I’ll see you when you get home,’” she told GMA.
She had no idea that the pair was allegedly flying to Mexico from Philadelphia with one-way tickets they had bought.
She said was shocked to learn that morning that Esterly had allegedly drained $4,000 from the couple’s joint account.
“In December, I had found out that he had rented an apartment four blocks away from Amy’s house,” Stacey said. “That was devastating to me and my children as well.”
The Morning Call, which obtained court records alleging a “secretive relationship” between Esterly and Amy, reported that he allegedly signed the teen out of the school 10 times between Nov. 13, 2017, and Feb. 9 without her mother’s permission.
“Those times that he was signing her out of school early, well me and my children were waiting for him at home. Where [are] he and Amy and what are they doing?”
Amy had allegedly listed Esterly as her stepfather on school forms, the Morning Call reported.
Police had previously told him to stay away from her, GMA reports.
The Esterly family spent a lot of time with Amy, who they met at church 8 years ago, she told GMA.
“We took Amy on a lot of family vacations, a lot of family outings,” Stacey said. “First time skiing, First time to the beach. We took her in and treated her as part of our family.”
Wife Refuses to Take His Calls: Lawyer
She told GMA that she is worried that Esterly will make bail and contact her and her daughters.
While he was in jail in Miami, he had tried to contact her, but she refused to take his calls, her attorney John Waldron told PEOPLE.
“He’s been estranged from his mom and brother for about five years now so I guess there’s no one else for him to call. But he’s been calling her two or three times a day from the jail in Miami, but Stacey has not picked up any of the calls,” he said.
Stacey told GMA: “It was very heartbreaking to have to see your children have to go through something like this.”
“I never thought in a million years we would ever be in this situation — let alone my children,” she added.
Esterly has not yet entered a plea. It is unclear whether he has obtained an attorney who could comment on his behalf.