'Abducted' US child found in Australia

Last updated 00:14 24/11/2013

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A woman accused of abducting her infant daughter from South Carolina 20 years ago has been located in Australia and is facing extradition back to the United States to face charges,  authorities say.

On Thursday, US Attorney Bill Nettles said that an indictment had been unsealed charging Dorothy Lee Barnett, 53, with international parental kidnapping and making a false statement on a passport application.

Her daughter, Savanna Catherine Todd, now 20, was in Australia living a normal life, Nettles said.

Barnett did not have custody of her then 10-month-old daughter when she left in 1994 from Isle of Palms, Nettles said.

At the time, police said Barnett left for a birthday party with her daughter and never returned.

In 1993, she had filed for divorce from her husband Benjamin Harris Todd III, a Bowling Green, Kentucky, native and former Charleston stockbroker.

Authorities said Barnett was located in Australia earlier this month and had been living under several aliases.

Federal US authorities have not given details on how they tracked Barnett down.

In a news release, Nettles said federal law enforcement agencies from the US and Australia co-operated on the case.

Court papers show that an arrest warrant was issued for Barnett in 1994.

Barnett has been denied bond pending extradition back to the United States, where no court date has been set, Nettles said.

If convicted on all charges, she could face more than 20 years in prison, and court papers listed no lawyer for her.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who must approve any extradition request, said Barnett appeared this week in a court at Maroochydore.

"As the matter is before the court, it would not be appropriate to comment further," he said in a statement on Saturday.

The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on the case.


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- AP

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