By Carlos Bermudez
n June 2008 my wife claimed there was a “family emergency” in Tucson, AZ. Ironically, as the story went, the emergency involved her cousin, a 12 year old boy who had gone missing. The elaborate story claimed that the mother of the boy was an undocumented illegal alien and was scared to go to the authorities for fear of being deported. The boy had gone out w/ his uncle to McDonald’s where it was suspected that they’d been picked up by the US Border Patrol. Although his mother was illegal the boy was born in the US. The problem was that he had a learning disability, a hearing problem and didn’t speak good English so would have a hard time explaining himself to the authorities. My wife’s mother asked her to go down there to help since she had studied law in Mexico and is licensed to practice there and a legal US Resident.
She went to Arizona for what was supposedly going to be a few days. Once there she turned off her phone and via email said that Sage had thrown it in the bath tub but she was “looking for another phone to call with.” She never seemed to find a phone and for several weeks I continued to receive emails that she was looking for one and that she was still working to resolve the family emergency. I traced the originated IP address of her emails to find she wasn’t in Arizona at all. She was in Mexico and there began the investigation into why she had really gone to Mexico, what she was doing and what her intentions were. Although she has never once admitted what she has done or explained why, we have determined the following:
She had been having a long-running affair with a co-worker who moved to Nogales, Mexico a border city and sister to Nogales, AZ. To be with him she quietly planned the abduction of our son. Over the course of weeks she asked me to go to the Mexican Embassy to apply for a birth certificate for Sage so he could have dual citizenship. She gathered up all the documentation she could find of our life such as the pictures and the legal documents and also took my passport, social security card, both copies of my birth certificate and the title to my car and flew to Tucson. The detailed story she’d told about the missing child was pure fiction used to abduct our own son.
After tracing emails to Mexico I emailed my wife to call me immediately and tell me what was going on. I did not tell her that I knew she was in Mexico. In short, terse two sentence emails she continued to tell me she was in Arizona and working to resolve her “family emergency.” A week passed and I sent her an email telling her I knew she was in Mexico and that if she didn’t stop lying about where she was or what she was doing I was going to go to the FBI and report her for kidnapping, which is when her emails stopped altogether. It seems she was playing for time to delay my reporting her for as long as possible. I remember thinking at that time that I didn’t want to involve law enforcement. Too often they make matters worse than they already are in family problems. I didn’t want my son’s mother in jail and there were still many doubts in my mind as to whether or not her intentions really were to stay in Mexico. I continued to send her emails telling her to stop whatever it was she was doing (she still had not, and never has told me what she was/is doing), because once law enforcement and the courts became involved there would likely be no turning back. Finally, I called the police to report a parental abduction. I remember thinking at the time that the police would activate some sort of amber alert protocol, pull in the FBI and began to darken the skies between the US and Mexico with attornies, diplomats and federal agents. Now i’m not normally naive, but I really thought that when a 13 month old baby goes missing it would be taken seriously. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
A Durham Police officer came and I explained the story to him. After I finished he asked me if I had a custody order and I told him I did not, to which he responded, “well then she has custody, it’s not kidnapping.” I explained to him that she didn’t have a custody order either and he said that if no one had a custody order it was joint custody, to which I agreed and said doesn’t that mean she can’t just take him out of the state without my permission, much less out of the country? To which he replied by asking me, if she was in Mexico what did I want him to do about it?
I was having hard time believing the way the conversation was going but I said, I don’t know how about doing your job? How about investigating, filling out a report and listing my son in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) missing person’s database? You do investigate missing persons right? And he asked me, well you know he’s in Mexico right? I said yes. And then he told me, “then he’s not missing” Now I know there are those for whom geography isn’t a strong point, so I explained to him that Mexico was kind of big, it was a foreign country and the only reason I had to believe my son was there was by tracing the IP addresses of emails. I told him that, at a minimum, my son should be listed in the NCIC. He said he’d talk to his supervisor and get back to me.
I got a call about twenty minutes later from the officer to tell me that he talked to his supervisor and they couldn’t list my son in the NCIC missing person’s database because he was not missing. I was sure I had read that the police were supposed to list parentally abducted children in the NCIC system so I went online and found what I had read again and called the officer back to tell him that the US State Department website says:
“Contact your local police, file a missing person’s report, and request that your child’s name be entered into to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) computer database. This is a mechanism provided to you by the Federal National Child Search Act of 1990… Make this report and enter your child in the NCIC even if you think you know where your child is located in another country. If your local law enforcement is unaware of the legal requirements for immediate entry into NCIC, please let our office know.”
And gave him the URL of the State Dept website. He said he’d look into it. I did not hear back from the officer. My son was not listed in the NCIC and no report was ever filed.
A few days later I called the police station and asked to talk to a supervisor. I talked to a sergeant who also told me they couldn’t list my son in the NCIC since he wasn’t “missing” if he was with his mother. Once again I told them that federal rules required them to enter my son into the system, and she told me she’d talk to one of her colleagues that handle parental abduction cases. She called me back and told me that I was right they could list him in the NCIC database, but it wouldn’t matter, because if they found my son and he was with my wife, the officers on the scene would just let them go and remove him from the NCIC system since she had custody and he had been “found.” They suggested I hire a lawyer. Once again, no report was filed and my son wasn’t listed in the NCIC system.
I did some research and found a good attorney in Durham county who was able to get me on the courts calendar and get me an Ex Parte emergency custody order within days. Once I had the order I went back to the police station with it and they, reluctantly, filed a missing persons report and listed my son in the NCIC. Now that my son was “officially” missing I could go to the FBI. I will save that story for another time, but here’s a hint, they were not much better.
Copyright © 2009 – 2011, Carlos Bermudez