Judge orders detention of Lawrence mother who fled to Europe with daughters


December 18, 2015

Source: The Kansas City Star

Samantha Elmer flew to Europe with the 9- and 11-year-old girls – Their father was seeking full custody of them.

Samantha_elmer

A Lawrence woman charged with kidnapping after taking her two daughters to Europe will be held without bond pending trial, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Samantha Elmer, 33, was arrested Dec. 8 after returning to the Kansas City area with the girls. She took them while facing a child custody hearing involving her former husband.

A federal magistrate on Monday ruled that Elmer could post bond, but prosecutors objected. On Thursday, District Judge Carlos Murguia ordered her continued detention while awaiting trial on the international parental kidnapping charge.

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Elmer flew Oct. 26 to Europe with the 9- and 11-year-old girls. Their father was seeking full custody of them. Elmer also was facing prosecution in Johnson County on charges of theft and criminal use of a credit card.

Elmer forged the father’s signature on passport applications for the girls, court documents filed by prosecutors allege.

Elmer decided to return to the United States after she said her money was stolen and the FBI agreed to not arrest her in front of the girls, according to court documents.

The girls live with their father in Smithville.

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Lawrence woman charged with kidnapping daughters


December 10, 2015

Source: Kansascity.com

Samantha Elmer was arrested after returning to the U.S. from Europe She fled with the girls prior to a court hearing over custody Elmer also faces criminal charges in a separate Johnson County case.

Samantha Elmer Justin Bush

Justin Bush’s daughters, Morgan, 9, and Taylor, 11, returned home to their father and his wife, Stephanie Bush, on Wednesday. They had been overseas since Bush’s ex-wife took them and fled to Europe in October. Photo courtesy Eli Rosenberg/KMBC-TV

Federal prosecutors have charged a Lawrence woman who left the United States with her two daughters to avoid losing custody of them.

Samantha Elmer, 33, was arrested Tuesday after returning to the country from Europe with the girls, according to federal prosecutors.

She is charged with one count of international parental kidnapping and appeared in court on the charge Wednesday.

According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., Elmer drove to Chicago with her 11- and 9-year-old daughters and boarded a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 26.

The girls’ father, who was seeking full custody of his daughters, contacted authorities a few days later after learning the girls had not been to school since Oct. 21, according to the documents.

Two girls taken to Europe by fugitive mother are returned to father in Smithville

A hearing on his custody request had been scheduled for Nov. 2, and Elmer was also due in Johnson County District Court on Oct. 30 where she was facing charges of identity theft and misuse of a credit card. A warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to show up.

Investigators discovered that Elmer had obtained passports for herself and her daughters on Oct. 23, and she purchased tickets for the flight to Turkey at a Lawrence travel agency on Oct. 26.

They also learned that Elmer’s current husband had wired money to her in Europe on several occasions. Her husband told authorities that she left because she was afraid of losing custody of her daughters.

He also told them he didn’t believe she intended to return to the United States.

A friend of the husband who helped him wire money to Elmer told investigators that the money was sent to a town in Italy.

The girls have now been reunited with their father, who lives in Smithville. Elmer is being held in federal custody.

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Dad Desperately Searching for Daughters After They Disappear With Mom


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. 

Justin-Bush-Taylor-Morgan-Abduction

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. 

STORY: One Dad’s All-Out Fight for Son After Mom Abducts Him to China

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

Taylot and Morgan Bush Abducted

“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.

Samantha Elmer Abduction Wanted

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.”

Abducted Bush kids Taylor Morgan

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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