A 52-year-old woman who fled the United States with her then minor daughter to allegedly stop her same-sex partner from seeing the child has been returned to the country, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday.
Lisa Miller, formerly of Virginia, “will be arraigned in the Western District of New York on charges of conspiracy and international parental kidnapping” Feb. 26 at 1.00 p.m. before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer, stated the DOJ in a press release.
Lisa Miller, mother in kidnapping case, in U.S. custody.— CARI Child Abduction (@ChildrecoveryI) February 6, 2021
The mother who fled to Nicaragua in a high-profile case over same-sex custody turned herself in to U.S. authorities last monthhttps://t.co/I2kqZJy1QJ
Miller had allegedly conspired with three co-defendants—Philip Zodhiates, Kenneth Miller and Timothy Miller—to flee for Nicaragua with the then seven-year-old Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins to prevent her former partner, Janet Jenkins, from seeing their daughter, according to the release. (RELATED: Authorities Arrest Man After He Allegedly Kidnapped Infant Son, Dragged Mother To Her Death With Car)
Both women had parental rights over Isabella, whom Miller gave birth to in 2002 after undergoing in-vitro fertilization, The New York Times reported. Jenkins and Miller had been in a civil union since 2000, but it dissolved in 2004. Miller was given custody over Isabella, while Jenkins had visiting rights, reported The Times. Miller moved to Virginia from Vermont, where the couple previously resided with their daughter.
Miller, who had become a devout Christian, decided to block Jenkins from seeing Isabella on court-ordered visits several times until a Vermont judge warned he would transfer custody to Jenkins. With all her legal options getting smaller and smaller day by day, Miller fled the country in 2009 with the aid of her co-defendants, The Times reported.
Miller’s supporters, many of whom were Mennonites, helped her go with Isabella to Buffalo, New York, from where they went into Canada and then flew to Nicaragua, dressed in Mennonite clothes, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Miller had been residing in Nicaragua with Isabella since her flight until she recently surrendered to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua, according to the DOJ.
Following her surrender, Miller was taken to the Federal Detention Center in Miami, the AP reported. Miller could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to the DOJ.
Isabella, now an adult, reportedly said she has been “happy, safe, healthy,” and, “well cared for” since arriving in Nicaragua, the AP reported on Feb. 10. She remains in the country on her own volition, according to affidavits written Jan. in Managua, Nicaragua, and filed Feb. 10 in federal court in Burlington, Vermont, the AP reported. However, she did seek to be removed from the suit, according to the outlet.