Canadian mother accused of fleeing to U.K. with abducted daughter
Lauren Ann Etchells, 31, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for abduction and defying a court order
A dual Canadian/U.K. citizen is accused of abducting her two-year-old daughter from Vancouver Island and fleeing the country in May after allegedly lying to passport officials.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of Lauren Ann Etchells, 31, who is accused of defying a court order and boarding a May 8 WestJet flight from Vancouver to London's Gatwick airport with her daughter Kaydance, her new partner, and their newborn child.
Kaydance Page Etchells, who turns two today, hasn't been seen since May 2016, according to the Saanich Police Department.
The toddler was reported missing by her mother Tasha Brown, Etchells' estranged wife.
An emotional Brown had difficulty speaking through tears at a Saanich police news conference today.
"Every day I wonder where you are and I wonder if you're all right," said Brown, as though addressing Kaydance.
"I wonder if you're walking more, if you're talking more, if you're laughing or crying.
"Rather than celebrating your second birthday together Kaydance, I'm instead in a police room sending a plea to the world to ask for help in finding you," said Brown, who has set up a Facebook page trying to find her daughter.
Interpol involved in case
Brown and Etchells were married in B.C. in August 2012, and Etchells gave birth to Kaydance on Sept. 26, 2014, in Edmonton.
Both Brown and Etchells are listed as Kaydance's parents on her birth certificate, said police. The family later moved to Nanaimo, B.C.
On July 31, 2015, Brown and Etchells separated. Kaydance was living with Etchells while court proceedings took place over custody of the girl, said police.
In August 2015, a court order required Etchells to surrender Kaydance's U.K. passport, and forbid her from applying for a Canadian passport for the little girl, or leaving Vancouver Island.
Police allege Etchells disobeyed that court order in April by lying to Passport Canada and obtaining another passport for Kaydance. Etchells had previously obtained a second birth certificate, showing her as Kaydance's only parent, said police.
The next month, she left the country with Kaydance, her new partner, Marco van der Merwe, 30, and their newborn son, Marcus, according to police.
"What Lauren has done is taken away Kaydance's freedom," said Sgt. Jereme Leslie of the Saanich police.
"Kaydance will be unable to grow up knowing her mom and her family.
"Lauren is causing Kaydance no end of psychological damage, including being able to form any sort of trusting long-term relationship."
Police said after arriving in England, Etchells and her children later travelled to France and are now travelling on U.K. passports. They are believed to be somewhere in Europe.
Canadian police are working with Interpol on the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Saanich police at 1-888-980-1919, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection at 1-866-543-8477, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.