Rhode Island Sisters Found After Vanishing 31 Years Ago — and Their Mom Is Charged
Mother Elaine Yates was living in Houston, Texas, under the alias Leina Waldberg
Two Rhode Island sisters who vanished with their mother in 1985 have been located in Texas — and their mother has been accused of abducting them amid a bitter custody battle with her husband, PEOPLE confirms.
According to a statement from the Rhode Island State Police obtained by PEOPLE, a tip received two days before Christmas led them to Elaine Yates, who was living in Houston, Texas, allegedly using the alias Leina Waldberg.
When she was arrested, “Yates confirmed her true identity,” according to the statement, which adds authorities researched social media accounts to confirm Waldberg is Yates.
Yates faces child snatching and fugitive from justice charges, according to the statement. Officials tell PEOPLE her daughters, Kelly and Kimberly Yates, now in their 30s, were also living in Houston under different names, with families of their own.
Police will not release siblings’ new names, the statement says.
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The sisters’ father, Russell Yates, could not be reached for comment.
He told The Providence Journal in 1988 that his wife learned he’d been unfaithful. He also admitted to the outlet that he punched her while they argued.
Kelly and Kimberly were reported missing on Aug. 26, 1985. An arrest warrant was issued three years later for Elaine Yates.
Kimberly and Kelly were 3-years-old and 10 months, respectively, at the time of their disappearance. Elaine Yates allegedly left the couple’s home with her daughters following a verbal argument.
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Yates was arraigned in Houston, and waived extradition to Rhode Island. She is currently being transported back to the state where she’ll be formal arraigned on Wednesday.
It was unclear if she has retained an attorney.