The father of two sisters who were kidnapped by their own mother thirty years ago has said he doesn’t want his ex-wife to be prosecuted.
Elaine Yates, now 69, had fled with her daughters Kimberly, then four years old, and 10-month-old Kelly from their Warwick, Rhode Island home on August 26, 1985.
Yates, who was living under the alias Liana Walberg in Houston, while her daughters went by Sarah and Melissa Walberg, claimed she’d abducted the girls to escape her abusive ex-husband Russell Yates.
Today she appeared in court in Warwick, Rhode Island, where she pleaded not guilty to one count of abduction. If convicted she faces up to two years in jail.
She was ordered to surrender her passport as she was granted bail at $50,000 personal recognizance, with her hearing set for February 1. Yates, who attended court wearing all black, accompanied by members of her family, will now be allowed to travel back to Houston.
Russell, 69, had admitted to hitting Yates after she confronted him about him cheating on her, but says it was after she attacked him first. His wife, who was taken to the emergency room for treatment, left with their kids three weeks later.
Russell says he spent the past three decades searching for his daughters, not knowing if they were safe or even still alive. Despite his heartbreak, he says he doesn’t want his ex-wife to face jail for his daughters’ abduction.
‘I’m not looking to have my ex-wife prosecuted or anything like that, he told the Boston Herald ‘That ain’t going to help her, me or anybody else at this point. All it would do is push my children further away from me.’
Yates is currently facing two counts of child snatching and could face up to 20 years in prison under state law.
‘What happens with my ex-wife, I really feel bad about. But we gotta find out what’s going on,’ he added.
‘I would just like my ex to tell me where the kids are and if they are well,’ Yates said. ‘And she can go about her business. I hear they have families of their own, I don’t know.’
Russell said it was a ‘big relief’ to discover his daughters have been found safe and sound, and remained hopeful that they would reach out to reconnect with him.
‘I’ve been searching for 30 years,’ Yates said. ‘I’ve always been trying to find my children,’ Russell told WCVB.
‘And now at least it’s up to them to get in touch with me.
‘The police won’t give me their information, and I just hope they will call.’
Russell Yates also said he wanted his girls to know they have a 21-year-old half-sister, currently studying in Los Angeles.
‘She’s graduating this year,’ Yates said. ‘She would love to know her sisters.’
Russell said one of his biggest fears was his daughters never knew they had a father who cared, and was still searching for the.m
‘I don’t even know if they knew I was alive,’ he said. ‘This might be a bigger shock to them than it is to me. My ex, before she left, she had threatened that she would leave with the kids and I would never know them or they would never know me.’
Kimberly and Kelly, now aged 35 and 32 respectively, are living in Houston and have families of their own, according to the Providence Journal.
A police spokesperson said the women were ‘obviously surprised’ by the news.