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Mom Finds Kidnapped Kids ... and They Hate Her

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Ronda Kaysen: Imagine this happening to you: Your estranged husband kidnaps your two young children and flees to Mexico. The authorities can do little to help, since he has left the country. Fifteen years go by with no sign of your babies.

Prince Sagala

And then, one day, you find a Facebook profile of a girl who bears a striking resemblance to the toddler you haven't seen in more than a decade. Stunned at the thought that this could be your daughter, you send her a note. She writes back, saying she's happy in her life and wants nothing to do with you. Then she cancels her Facebook account. You contact the police. They track your son and daughter down. They're living with their father in Florida. He's arrested for kidnapping, but your children have been filled with lies for 15 years and revile you.

This is what happened four months ago to a California woman named Prince Sagala when she tracked down her children.

During her one and only supervised visit with her kids -- in a public library -- her son sat with his nose in a book and her 17-year-old daughter gave curt, one-word replies to her questions, the Associated Press reports.

"She doesn't know me; her father's in jail," Sagala said. "I guess she does blame me for this. She doesn't know the truth. I told her, 'You can see me right now; I'm not that person like what you thought for 15 years, like what your father told you.'"

Sagala's side of the story is heartbreaking. She said that her husband, Faustino Fernandez Utrera, was abusive and that she had planned on seeking a restraining order. Then he called her at work one day, said he was taking the kids to the park ... and vanished. A friend of his called later that night and told her Faustino had gone to his native Mexico. She searched for her kids, to no avail. He had indeed left the country, and Mexico would not extradite him. Eventually, Prince remarried and had two more children, but she longed for her missing kids.

Utrera, meanwhile, sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. But he has his own version of the past 15 years, and it paints a very different story of Sagala. In his version, she was mentally unstable and was having an affair with his brother at the time he took the kids. He's shown letters he received from her over the years, and claims she called and sent money to Mexico -- and showed pictures of her kids in her church. She knew where her children were, he says.

But the police believe Sagala and think they have a strong case. "In her interviews with us, we feel that she has been very candid," Deputy District Attorney Kurt Rowley told the AP. "In child abduction cases, you'll get two very different stories. But having taken all that into account, there isn't any question in our mind that the acts that were done qualify as the crimes that were charged."

This is such a sad, sad story. Two kids are suddenly without the only father they've ever known, and have been taught to revile the mother who's spent so many years dreaming of this day.


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8 comments so far | Post a comment now
XXXX July 17, 2010, 9:09 AM

Sounds like he turned the kids against her.

WinstonCourt July 17, 2010, 6:01 PM

Wow, bad decision, bad actions on the authorities part. No longer is the focus on revenge or punishment of anyone involved, the focus is on what is best for the children. If that is not the focus of the mother, she really does not need to in the childrens’ lives.

Diane July 17, 2010, 6:48 PM

And would you think leaving your children with an abusive man who kidnapped them is the best thing for them ?? I don’t think this case is that black and white.

Anonymous July 18, 2010, 9:54 PM

I feel sad for the children. They’re father is in prison and a random stranger expects their undying love for making that happen. She just destroyed their home! What happened fifteen years ago doesn’t matter to two people who are so young that fifteen years is almost their entire life. Time doesn’t go by the same way for them as is does for us. As much as I feel sorry for the mother who lost her children, that’s just the point, they’re not hers anymore. She has to find a way to realise that. As for the accusations of ‘abuse’, neither child appears to feel that they’ve been abused. If they did, perhaps they would be happier to see their mother.

Carol-Lynn August 5, 2010, 12:13 AM

i have an understanding of the Mom who found her children hostile. My mom and dad “had” to get married because she was married to someone else and it wasn’t her first extra-marital pregnancy. The other pregnancy was a horrendous scandal , she had fraternal twins, the male infant died at birth and his sister at eight months. Mom was under suspicion and she was also pregnant with her husbands second child. Both of my parents families were well known her were founding fathers and his was the largest with twelve kids. When they divorced he was given custody of at least me and I think my sisters as well. She stole us and moved to Portland. Actually I think her parents were involved. She moved over 12times in the same neighborhood trying to keep ahead of him. However when I was twelve I searched for his family and was successfully reunited with my father. While growing up I was never told any details so I was quite shocked when I asked my father’s mother why he never looked for me and she told me the truth. All I could remember is all the horrific things she told me he did …I never even asked him or anyone if they were true but I know what she did and I was glad to have only one abusive, bitter alcoholic parent to deal with.

Anthony Przybylo August 17, 2010, 7:52 PM

We don’t know the whole story,but dad didn’t kidnap the kids if he is the dad n they were married at which she supposedly remarried while still married.they say dad partied a lot while mom slept around w his brother. A Dad that parties wouldn’t take his kids, why is it legal for mom to take them when she leaves dad yet dad takes them and its kidnapping??? And Now the kids suffer from their parents fighting yet again. Guess its time to call and chat with his lawyer and help him out of this… So he can be with his kids again. There are more sides to each story then words will ever be able explain but we need to focus on the kids and Equal Laws.

Anthony Przybylo August 17, 2010, 7:52 PM

We don’t know the whole story,but dad didn’t kidnap the kids if he is the dad n they were married at which she supposedly remarried while still married.they say dad partied a lot while mom slept around w his brother. A Dad that parties wouldn’t take his kids, why is it legal for mom to take them when she leaves dad yet dad takes them and its kidnapping??? And Now the kids suffer from their parents fighting yet again. Guess its time to call and chat with his lawyer and help him out of this… So he can be with his kids again. There are more sides to each story then words will ever be able explain but we need to focus on the kids and Equal Laws.

Immobilier Bretagne March 7, 2011, 2:20 AM

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