A 50-year-old Michigan man who allegedly fled with his three children has been detained after police officers discovered them at the end of a 12-hour search. The man currently faces domestic violence charges for forcing his wife out of their car and allegedly abducting the couple's children. The man reportedly hid in northern Michigan near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. Police say the children had not eaten or drunk water for nearly two days when they were discovered.
The incident occurred in the midst of a contentious divorce and child custody dispute between the man and his wife, a battle that the woman claims culminated in the alleged abduction. He is scheduled to be arraigned on misdemeanor domestic violence charges. A judge ordered that the man refrain from contacting his children and wife and jailed him in lieu of $10,000 bail. The defendant does not currently face charges in the county where he was captured, but official authorities say they have to review the incident. The father was also ordered to undergo a mental health assessment.
Police announced that the three children, ages 9, 10 and 14, were thirsty, hungry and fatigued when their father was arrested, but none of them suffered any substantial injuries. The group spent the night in the woods near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. They were found after police responded to the mother's missing persons report, eventually locating the defendant's abandoned vehicle.
When authorities did not find the man in the surrounding area, they enlisted the help of police dogs and helicopters. Neither were able to locate the family, though the children said they noticed the helicopters and knew they were searching for them and their father. A man running on the dunes saw the father and children, but the group had moved elsewhere by the time police arrived. The family was finally located after a 40 minute ground search.
Child custody can be highly contentious issue during a divorce. In some cases, one spouse may be considered a flight risk, necessitating legal action that prevents him or her from fleeing with the children. Parents who are tempted to abduct their children should instead contact an experienced attorney so they can pursue custody legally.
Source: Oakland Press, "Wanted Orchard Lake man found in northern Michigan with children will have mental health evaluation" Carol Hopkins, Sep. 03, 2013