SC child missing since '94 found safe, mother charged

Dorothy Barnett (Source: WCSC via Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
Dorothy Barnett (Source: WCSC via Center for Missing and Exploited Children)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced Thursday that the court has unsealed an indictment charging Dorothy Lee Barnett, 53, of Queensland, Australia, formerly of Isle of Palms, South Carolina, with one count of International Parental Kidnapping and two counts of False Statement in a Passport Application.

Barnett has also gone by the names Alexandria Maria Canton and Alexandria Maria Geldenhuys.

Barnett is charged with retaining her infant child outside the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of another person's parental rights.  Further, Barnett is charged with two counts of making false statements in a passport application in which she used a false identity, Nettles said.

Nettles said that the indictment alleges that the child was removed from the country in 1994 when the child was less than 10 months old in violation of a state court order setting parental rights, and that the child was retained outside of the United States until on or about May 6, 2009, when the child turned 16 years of age.

Nettles stated the child, now an adult, has been located and found to be safe, healthy and otherwise living a normal life.  The adult child was contacted by Australian and U.S. authorities regarding the case near the time of Barnett's arrest.

"The commitment demonstrated by the FBI agents in this case in locating Barnett and the missing child after so many years was tireless and is an inspiration," Nettles said.

Barnett was arrested in Australia on November 4, 2013, and began a bond hearing on November 12, 2013, which continued November 20, 2013, at which time Barnett was denied a bond pending extradition to the United States.

Barnett is currently facing extradition back to the United States, and no court date in the United States has been set.  The International Parental Kidnapping count carries up to three years imprisonment and each of the False Statement charges carry up to ten years imprisonment.

The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of State and the Australian Federal Police.  Assistant United States Attorney Nathan Williams of the Charleston office is prosecuting the case.  The Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.