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US child taken 20 years ago safe in Australia

November 22, 2013

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) — A former U.S. woman located in Australia is facing extradition back to the United States for taking her infant daughter from the Isle of Palms 20 years ago, federal authorities announced this week.

On Thursday, U.S. 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.

Barnett did not have custody of her then 10-month-old daughter Savanna Catherine Todd when she left in 1994, Nettles said. At the time, police said that Barnett — who in 1993 filed for divorce from her husband, former Charleston stockbroker Benjamin Harris Todd III — left for a birthday party with her daughter and never returned.

Authorities said Barnett was located in Australia earlier this month and had been living under several aliases. Nettles said that Todd, who is now 20, was also found in Australia and is living a normal life.

Federal authorities have not given details on how they tracked Barnett down. In a news release, Nettles said federal law enforcement agencies from the U.S. and Australia cooperated 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 attorney for her.

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