Missing girl taken by mom in custody battle found after 11 years; stepdad arrested
After more than a decade in hiding, a New Hampshire girl spirited out of the country in the middle of a custody dispute is back in the United States.
Mary Nunes, now 19, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Atlanta and is on the way to an undisclosed location in Colorado.
Nunes and her stepfather, Scott Kelley, were taken into custody at Atlanta International Airport early Wednesday afternoon. Kelley was arrested on a kidnapping warrant and is being held pending extradition to New Hampshire.
Nunes, her mother Genevieve Kelley and her stepfather had not been seen publicly in New Hampshire since 2004, until the girl’s mother surrendered to authorities last November.
Genevieve Kelley, seeking medical treatment for a son born to her and Scott Kelley while they were on the run, agreed to face charges but refused to disclose the location of her husband and daughter.
Genevieve Kelley and Mark Nunes, father of Mary Nunes, were embroiled in a contentious custody dispute, in which Kelley alleged that Nunes was sexually abusing their daughter. After those charges were deemed unfounded by police and court authorities, Genevieve Kelly, Scott Kelley and Mary Nunes disappeared.
“We love Mary and are overjoyed that she is alive and back in the U.S.,” said Mark Nunes in a statement released by a private investigator hired by the Nunes family. “Our hearts and home are open to her, and we will do everything we can to insure she remains safe and healthy.”
Nunes said he remains concerned about Mary’s emotional and physical wellbeing. “We look forward to the day our family is finally reunited,” he said.
That will be up to Mary Nunes, who has not seen her biological father since she was 8.
“She is 19 years old. She will have to make that decision for herself,” said Philip Klein, a private investigator who specializes in child abduction cases related to marital disputes.
The long odyssey of Mary Nunes came to an end this morning, when U.S. Marshals were notified by officials at the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica that Mary, Scott Kelley and their attorney, Alan Rosenfeld, had walked into the embassy.
According to Klein, they were told Scott Kelley could return to the U.S. without facing charges. “This was not an arranged surrender,” Klein said. “Scott Kelley thought he was coming back to the U.S. without charges. That’s what he was told at the embassy. He was tricked.”
Kelley was immediately arrested upon exiting the aircraft, according to Klein, and Mary was given the option of deciding what she wanted to do. She stayed with Rosenfeld and she is en route to an undisclosed location in Colorado, where his practice is based.
“The family is elated to have Mary back in the United States, and they would like to have Mary be independently examined,” said Klein.
He said the 19-year-old told U.S. marshals that she had only a 10th-grade education, “because she was moved from place to place and she was on the run.”
“We are urging the county attorney in New Hampshire to prosecute both Genevieve and Scott Kelley to the fullest extent possible, and send a message that you do not kidnap children and take them to foreign countries,” said Klein.
Kelley remains on track for a May 8 trial after Judge Peter Bornstein on March 24 denied a motion to dismiss the state’s charge of custodial interference pending in Coos County.
County Attorney John McCormick claims that Kelley, accompanied by Scott Kelley, took Mary first to Colorado and then to Central America, where Genevieve Kelley’s passport indicated that she entered Honduras through Guatemala.
As a condition of her bail, Kelley is not allowed to have contact with her daughter.