December 4, 2015
Source: Yahoo News
Justin Bush has already bought his daughters’ Christmas gifts and decorated his home for the holidays, but the father has no idea if his girls will be able to celebrate with him.
That’s because six weeks ago, Bush’s ex-wife Samantha Elmer fled with Taylor, 11, and Morgan, 9, from Lawrence, Kansas to Austria without Bush’s permission, say police. And the girls haven’t been heard from since.
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A felony warrant for Interference with Custody was issued for Elmer on Nov. 4 — the same day that the exes were due in court for a custody hearing — according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“It terrifies me to imagine what they’re going through,” the Smithville, Missouri dad, 33, tells Yahoo Parenting. Although he and Elmer, 33, had joint custody of the girls, who had lived with their mom following the 2013 divorce, Bush was granted sole custody at the hearing.
STORY: Mom of Kidnapped Boys Turns to Web to Find Them
“They don’t have much clothing, no toys, and have been out of school for six weeks now,” he says. “I can only hope she’s telling them that they’re on vacation.”
Bush remarried following his split from Elmer, which occurred after nine years of marriage, and says that because the kids’ custody arrangement “wasn’t working well at all,” he and his current wife “thought that [Elmer] would run, but didn’t ever think that she’d go international.”
Elmer, a bakery owner, was due to stand trial for four felony charges (including identity theft, felony theft, and criminal use of credit cards) on Nov. 2. But “instead of confronting her criminal past she decided it would be best to snatch these children away from their lives, families, homes, and friends and put them in a life of fear and on the run,” Bush wrote on a GoFundMe page that he set up.
And without any idea of exactly where Elmer may have taken the children — who were born in Germany, where the family lived for three years when Bush was in the military — he’s at a major disadvantage in helping to get them back. “The belief is that Austria was probably the cheapest ticket that she could get,” Bush explains. “They could really be anywhere in Europe.” A possible silver lining, he says, is that “the Europeans are very strict with kids not being in school, so the girls will stand out like a sore thumb.”
And that’s why Bush, an IT manager, has turned to social media to try and find his girls while international investigators hunt. (While Bush declined to get into details about who was on the case, the FBI is typically the agency responsible for investigating international parental kidnapping cases, according to the organization International Parental Abduction.) Through his community page, “Bring Back the Bush Girls ‘Taylor and Morgan’,” the father has been spreading the word about his search in the hopes that someone, anyone, will see them and say something.
“Somebody eventually is going to see [the page] overseas, and because my girls are yellow status in Interpol as missing, if someone turns them in they’ll be taken into custody I can go pick them up,” he says, referring to the international police organization’s practice of flagging names of missing persons with a status of yellow. “I just need somebody to identify them.”
Through his involvement in international abduction support groups, Bush says he’s hopeful the search will be short lived. “That’s how lots of their children have been found, through social media,” he says of those he’s met. “That’s our approach in getting them out.”
And when Bush gets that call, he’ll be ready. “We’ll hop on a plane and come get them,” he says. “There’s no way I’ll let my kids be in an orphanage or a foster care system for longer than I have to.” Until then, he’s said, he’ll watch, wait, and worry. “It’s miserable,” he told KCTV5, “not knowing where they are or if they are safe.”
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