Toronto

'Oh mommy, you have my eyes': Mother recounts being reunited with son 31 years after abduction

Jermaine Mann's dad was arrested in U.S. after son allegedly abducted during court-ordered visit in 1987

October 29, 2018

Lyneth Mann-Lewis addressed the media at Toronto police headquarters on Monday, just days after meeting her son, who was allegedly abducted 31 years ago. She said she's proof parents of missing children shouldn't give up hope. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

Lyneth Mann-Lewis said she never stopped believing her son was out there, and today feels the "utmost happiness" to be reunited with him — 31 years after he was allegedly abducted by his father and taken to the U.S.

Mann-Lewis, from Brampton, Ont., spoke publicly Monday for the first time since being reunited with her son, Jermaine Mann, this week. Although Jermaine, now 33, didn't appear at the news conference, Mann-Lewis said when they met, he immediately said: "Oh mommy, you have my eyes."  

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Mann-Lewis said after years of suffering, she now feels like she's proof that parents of missing children shouldn't give up hope.

"Believe that all things are possible," she told reporters at Toronto police headquarters.

You can watch Mann-Lewis's powerful remarks in the video below. 

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Lyneth Mann-Lewis says she never stopped believing her son was out there. Now, after being reunited, the work begins on building a future together.  16:40

Mann-Lewis said she spent time talking with her son and cooking for him, but it's still unclear what's next. The mother said it's time to move forward from what 's happened, but she expects that will pose difficulties, too.

"I'm going to stand with him," she said. 

Father expected to face charges in Canada

U.S. federal agents say Jermaine's father, Allan Mann Jr., was arrested on Friday in Connecticut, where the two had been living under aliases in a quiet suburb near Hartford.

Toronto police want Mann Jr. extradited to Toronto to face charges here after he's prosecuted in the U.S.

Jermaine Mann was allegedly abducted by his father when he was a toddler during a court-ordered visit in 1987 and taken to Connecticut. Now, he's been reunited with his mother. (Missing Children Society of Canada)

Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks alleged the father and son crossed into the U.S. illegally then obtained and started using fake identification. During the following years, he said, the two lived a "life of lies."

Chief among them, Jermaine had been told his mother died decades ago, the Hartford Courant reported.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said the arrest was good news, but the reunion was even better. He praised the co-operation between Canadian and U.S. investigators.

Amanda Pick, chief executive officer of the Missing Children Society of Canada, called Mann-Lewis "a tower of strength and perseverance," amid the decades-long investigation, which generated hundreds of tips over the years.

Allan Mann Jr. appeared briefly Friday in Federal Court in Hartford. He faces charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. officials said Mann Jr. has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, and was found living under the name Hailee DeSouza in subsidized housing in Vernon, about 20 kilometres east of Hartford.

Officials allege he ran off with his 21-month-old son on June 24, 1987, following a visitation in Toronto, entered the U.S. and obtained fake identification for himself and his son, including bogus Texas birth certificates.

The investigation has involved multiple U.S. agencies as well as Toronto police and the RCMP.

The Courant reported that Jermaine sobbed quietly in the front row as his father appeared in court on Friday, and left the courthouse without commenting. 

With files from The Canadian Press
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