NZ police seek details on alleged US kidnapping

Last updated 18:57 24/05/2010

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New Zealand police say they are seeking more details from the FBI as it hunts for a New Zealand woman accused of having kidnapped her one-year-old child and fleeing the United States to this country.

American officials believe Bianca Ellen Ormsby, 21, left Los Angeles on March 16 with her daughter, Sydney Thomas, on a flight to Auckland, according to FBI Special Agent James Brennan.

A criminal complaint was filed last month a Detroit court, and Ms Ormsby has been charged with international parental kidnapping.

A spokesman for New Zealand police said officials were aware of the situation and had requested clarification from US authorities.

"Until we have a response we are not in a position to comment further," police said when asked whether they were pursuing Ms Ormsby's links with family members in New Zealand to track her whereabouts.

Ms Ormsby, who was born in New Zealand, moved to the United States with her family 12 years ago, and was studying at University of Michigan when she met the child's father. She was living with her own father, Auckland medical school graduate Adrian Ormsby, a pathologist, when she disappeared with the child.

At the time, Ms Ormsby and Sydney's father, Adam Thomas, 21, had temporary joint legal custody of Sydney. The FBI said that on March 9, Ms Ormsby picked Sydney up from Mr Thomas' home in Farmington Hills, where he lived with his own parents, and vanished.

Mr Thomas has started a Facebook page titled "Help bring home my kidnapped daughter", on which he said Sydney had just learned to crawl the last time he saw her.

If the New Zealander is extradited and convicted of the federal charge, she faces up to three years in prison.

Ms Ormsby alleged in mid-July 2009 that Mr Thomas was verbally and physically abusive and obtained a personal protection order against him, which she terminated two months later.

During the custody battle, Mr Thomas expressed concerns about Ms Ormsby's mental state, and also expressed concerns to the court as early as July 2009 that she might flee to New Zealand with Sydney.

Ms Ormsby's Hamilton-based maternal grandmother has been phoned by her granddaughter from within New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald reported.

"I do know that she's in New Zealand but she has moved from the place she's been at," said the grandmother, who said mother and baby were safe and well. "I don't know where she is."

The grandmother said that "half the family" had become involved since the pair's arrival and some family members had been put in a difficult position.

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"As far as I'm concerned, she is being a very difficult person. I feel sorry for the baby, but what can we do?"

- NZPA

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