CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A decade after a mother fled to Central America with her 8-year-old, New Hampshire authorities and the woman’s ex-husband still don’t know where the daughter is.
“It’s very hard for us to reconcile our mental image of her as a 7-year-old girl with the reality that she’s a gawky, beautiful, 18-year-old teenager that we could pass on the street and might not even recognize,” Mark Nunes said, referring to the last time he saw Mary Nunes.
Nunes’ ex-wife, Genevieve Kelley, turned herself in Monday to face a custody charge and was ordered to have no contact with their daughter as a condition of bail. Kelley has said her daughter is safe and that she wants to live with her.
But Mark Nunes said he hopes to be reunited with her and move forward.
“I was able to influence positively my daughter’s life for her first seven years,” Nunes told The Associated Press. “And for the next 11 years, my presence in her life - and I’m still present in her life, even though I’m not there - has been as a villain.”
John McCormick, prosecutor in northern New Hampshire’s Coos County, said Mary Nunes, now 18 and no longer subject to family court, is still classified as a missing person. But he says there’s little he can do to encourage her to come forward. “It’s ultimately up to her; she’s an adult,” he said.
Kelley was still being held Wednesday on $50,000 bail on a charge of custodial interference and has surrendered her passport. Her lawyer, Alan Rosenfeld, said she wants a jury trial.
Once Kelley is released, her daughter would seek to live with her, Rosenfeld said.
“She’s anxious to come back; she’s anxious to be with her mother,” he said. “She wants this resolved.”
Kelley disappeared with her daughter and new husband Scott Kelley into Central America in the fall of 2004 after her attempt to prove her ex-husband had harmed the child backfired.
After the couple divorced in 1998, Kelley got primary custody and settled in Whitefield, the northern New Hampshire town where her parents lived.
Nunes said frequent arguments arose when it came to their daughter and that they communicated through a notebook Mary brought with her when she visited. In October 2003, as Nunes was getting ready to see his daughter, the visit was canceled, he said.
Kelley told police that he had abused the child and provided a homemade videotape she purported to be evidence but that authorities called disturbing. In the tape, authorities said, Mary at times was shown screaming and hiding from the camera and Kelly made statements about the allegations.
Nunes was never charged; police and state investigators felt he had been unfairly accused.
In 2004, the Kelleys and Mary moved to Colorado but didn’t stay long. Mother and child were ordered by a judge to appear in New Hampshire for an evaluation but never showed up. By the end of November, authorities discovered that Mary, then 8, hadn’t been to school for at least a month. The family’s mail was undeliverable.
That December, Nunes was given custody of Mary but she had already been taken to Central America with her mother. In 2005, the Kelleys were indicted. There’s been no word of Scott Kelley.
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