A Canadian woman has been reunited with her adult son decades after his father allegedly kidnapped him and lived under an assumed identity in Connecticut.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis had an emotional meeting with her 33-year-old son, who has been going by a different name which authorities did not disclose, days after finding out he was alive and well, the Hartford Courant reports.
"The words 'your son is alive, we found him,' that is breathtaking," she told reporters at a press conference in Toronto. "Constant worry is finally over."
The son, who was born Jermaine Allan Mann, had lived for decades under the impression that his mother was dead, according to the Courant.
The pair had been separated since June 24, 1987, when the mom dropped her young son off for a scheduled weekend visit with his father, Allan Mann Jr., a Ghanaian immigrant with dual Canadian citizenship, at Mann’s home in Toronto, officials said.
But Mann eventually absconded with the couple’s son, and at some point in 1987 crossed into the United States and vanished, officials said.
Mann changed his name to Hailee DeSouza, and eventually settled in Vernon, Connecticut, with his son, whose name he also had changed, according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Mann was living in Section 8 housing, which he acquired by allegedly providing fake birth certificates for himself and his son, which listed their birthplace as Houston, Texas, and his son’s birthday as March 5, 1989, according to an affidavit written by Christina Scaringi, an investigator with the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mann was arrested Friday morning, and appeared briefly in federal court on charges of making false statements in connection with his HUD application, officials said. He’s due back in court on Nov. 9 for a probable cause hearing.
After facing his charges in the U.S., Mann is expected to be extradited to face an abduction charge in Canada.
“This is one of those rare cases that tugs at your heartstrings,” Scaringi said in a statement. “Not only did we, working collectively, get this alleged bad actor off the street, but we played a role in reuniting an unjustly separated family.”
The son, who works for the state of Connecticut, was present at his father’s court hearing and buried his face in his hands and wept; he left the courthouse without offering any comments to reporters, the Courant reports.
Lewis-Mann, who flew down to Connecticut to reunite with her son over the weekend, told reporters that the first thing she did when she saw him was squeeze him to make sure he was real.
“We sat in the hotel and we talked and talked and he didn’t want to leave. Finally he said, ‘Mom I love you,’ and I said, ‘I love you too son,’” she said at the press conference.
The investigation, which was conducted alongside the U.S. Marshals Service, began in 2016 at a joint fugitive task force meeting in Toronto, according to the Courant. When Mann was arrested — under his assumed name — officials matched his fingerprints with those Canadian authorities had on file, the Courant reports.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said that his agency had held a conference on fugitive training in 2016 and said this very case was discussed with U.S. law enforcement officials.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo Credit: Toronto Police Service]
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