Monte Turner, of Colorado, was barred by court order from contacting his former wife and their son Luke Turner. However, as is common in abduction cases, a court order did not get in the away of Mr. Turner last month when he arrived at his former wife’s home while Luke was playing in the backyard.
Turner overpowered Brandy Turner with pepper spray and an electrical stun gun, grabbed his son, and fled on a bicycle. His escape route was planned with the assistance of Luke’s grandfather, who is also under investigation.
An Amber Alert was issued throughout Colorado and the surrounding states, but no one thought to alert the Canadian border crossings because Colorado did not share a border with Canada.
It appears that Luke’s mother was unaware that her son had a passport, thus making it so much easier to be spirited out of the United States. Fifteen hundred kilometers later, Mr. Turner with Luke, checked into a motel in Brandon, Manitoba.
Fortunately, Mr. Turner made a simple mistake by using his credit card to pay for the motel room and within minutes, the motel owner was shocked as lights and sirens converged on his motel, where Turner was arrested.
This story, unlike many others, has a good ending as Luke was returned to his mother shortly thereafter, while Turner remains in jail in Manitoba awaiting deportation to face charges of kidnapping, burglary and menacing.
So, are there steps parents can take to foil the chances of a successful abduction? Of course there are.
In cases like these, the custodial parent is usually well aware that abduction is a possibility. In the Turner case, Monte Turner had taken his son the year before when there was no custody order in favour of his wife, to stand in his way.
Counsel for Brandy Turner ought to have ensured that a copy of the court order awarding her custody and preventing her ex-husband from contacting her or Luke, together with notice of the Amber Alert, was sent to as many border crossings as possible.
One can never be too careful and the fact that Luke had his own passport, albeit without Ms. Turner’s consent, is a reminder that it is prudent in high-risk cases for a parent to contact the Passport Office to determine if a fraudulent application has been made by another person.
Nonetheless, where a parent is determined to commit the ultimate crime they will take whatever steps are necessary, including forging consent letters and travel authorizations so that border authorities have no reason to suspect foul play.
What is really needed in Canada are judges who will mete out appropriate punishment for abducting parents as a general deterrence to others and specific deterrence to the abductor. A slap on the wrist, community service, or a probation order does not cut it. Parents who steal children commit the worst form of child abuse and deserve lengthy prison terms.
I suspect that Colorado will not be shy to ensure that Turner pays for his crimes, as he awaits trial with a $500,000 bail requirement.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang