Arrest of alleged child kidnapper after 31 years gives hope to parents of abducted children: investigator
'This is believed to be the longest case in North America, if possibly not the world'
A Toronto police detective says the recent arrest, in Connecticut, of a Canadian man accused of abducting his toddler son Jermaine Mann 31 years ago, is a flicker of hope for parents of abducted children.
Allan Mann, who has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, was found living under the name Hailee DeSouza, federal officials said.
After running off with his 21-month-old son on June 24, 1987 following a visitation in Toronto, Allan Mann entered the U.S. — where he had relatives — and obtained fake identification for himself and his son, including bogus Texas birth certificates, officials said.
I think it gives hope to all parents out there who have had children abducted.- Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks
Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks of the Toronto police ROPE Fugitive and Bail Enforcement Unit says cases like this one are not common.
"This is believed to be the longest case in North America, if possibly not the world, where an abducted child is reunited with a parent where they're both in safe condition," Banks told CBC Toronto.
"It is a very rare occurrence, but at the same time I think it gives hope to all parents out there who have had children abducted. But it's also a caution to people who have abducted children that time is not on their side, eventually they will be located and apprehended."
Banks was not able to provide specific numbers, but he said there are other cases where children are abducted and taken, not just to the United States, but to other countries.
He said such fugitives go to great lengths to avoid capture and prosecution.
What's next for Allan Mann
Banks said Allan Mann is still wanted by Canadian authorities but extradition proceedings from the United States would not begin right away.
"There is the original arrest warrant from 1987 for the abduction of Jermaine, but obviously the U.S. will have to prosecute their cases first," he said.
"Depending on the results of the arrest, if there is a conviction, he'd have to serve out his federal time in the U.S. then upon his release that would then be up to the Canadian government and the U.S. government to work on extraditing Mr. Mann back to Canada to face the prosecution on the original child abduction case."
Allan Mann appeared briefly Friday in federal court in Hartford. The Hartford Courant reported his son, Jermaine, sobbed quietly in the front row with his head in his hands and left the courthouse without commenting. Jermaine Mann had been told his mother died decades ago, the Courant reported.
He is detained on charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It wasn't immediately clear if he has a lawyer who could respond to the allegations.
Mother and son reunited
With the assistance of the Missing Children Society of Canada Jermaine Mann has been reunited with his mother, Lyneth Mann-Lewis, of Brampton, Ont., Banks said.
"They met with the mother and they actually flew her to the United States on the weekend so she can be united with her son," he said.
"She's met her son for the first time in 31 years, as well as for the son — he's met a mother he never knew he had. So this is a very emotional and probably happy time for both of them from what I've heard."
MCSC CEO Amanda Pick says the case was registered with them two days after Jermaine went missing and their investigative team has partnered with police throughout the search.
Pick said it's been has extraordinary couple of days.
To see hope last 31 years with a conclusion and a result of finding that child safely is a powerful thing.- Amanda Pick, CEO of MCSC
"I'm still trying to find the words to express just how powerful this conclusion is and the result of seeing a mother reunited with her son 31 years later," Pick told CBC Toronto.
"I believe that hope is present in every single case when it comes to a family searching for a missing child, and so to see hope last 31 years with a conclusion and a result of finding that child safely is a powerful thing."
Describing the case as "unprecedented," Pick said never before has MCSC "seen that powerful, amazing conclusion" in a case and they are excited to have been part of it.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis and her son are expected to hold a news conference on Monday.
With files from Haweya Fadal and The Associated Press