Local News

Parental Abductions Not Uncommon, Though Most End Within Months

Posted August 6, 2004

— According to the Justice Department, what makes the case of Nicolas DiPietro uncommon is that he was missing for four years before being found this week.

Most children are found within six months. WRAL talked with a local woman who has not seen her child in six years.

Rose Marie Sarver thought her estranged husband was taking their daughter to see his family. But 7-year-old Khadejah Esleem never returned home.

"I would not wish this on my worst enemy," Sarver said.

Sarver has legal custody of her daughter. There is a felony warrant out against Khadejah's father. The State Department believes he is hiding out with his daughter, now 13, in the West Bank.

"Me not being able to do anything about this and her being in the middle of a war zone between Israel and Palestine, it's hard to swallow," Sarver said.

She is not alone in her fear and frustation.

Last year in North Carolina, 30 children were abducted by their mother or father. Already this year, 19 have disappeared with a parent.

Sixty-two children were kidnapped by a parent in 1997, 61 in 2002.

Wake County Sheriff's Maj. Johnny Jordan said the kids are usually taken for a few weeks. But in some cases, weeks turn into years.

"My personal opinion is vendetta," Jordan said. "Something goes wrong in the custody or divorce hearing, and they use the children for leverage one way or the other."

Once parents take their children out of state or the country, Jones said, the search gets harder. The parent often changes their name and works odd jobs without their social security number.

All Sarver knows is that she's without her daughter, something she has to deal with everyday.

"I want her home, and I want her safe," she said.

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