OTTAWA: A Canadian mother has been reunited with her son abducted three decades earlier by his father, whom police said on Monday (Oct 30) fled with the boy to the US and raised him under an alias.
Now 33, Jermaine Mann met his mother Lyneth Mann-Lewis for the first time last week while his father was taken into US custody.
At a Toronto press conference, Ms Mann-Lewis broke down in tears as she described the ordeal.
"It's been a long and hard 31-year journey since my son was abducted," she said. "I have endured many hard days, many hard days."
"Today with utmost happiness, I am here to share with you the end of our journey and (to say) the constant worrying is finally over."
Her former partner Allan Mann Jr., 66, has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, and was arrested last Friday in the US state of Connecticut for abducting their then 21-month-old son Jeremy during a court-ordered supervised visit in 1987.
The father and son had been living under aliases in a Hartford suburb.
Mann Jr. obtained bogus documents for the pair, and told Jeremy that his mother had died decades ago.
He now faces multiple charges in the United States, including lying on a US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing application, and in Canada for the kidnapping.
Once the US charges are dealt with, Mann Jr. is expected to be extradicted to Canada to face further prosecution.
Toronto police fugitive squad Detective Sergeant Wayne Banks called the case unprecedented.
"They lived basically a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine," he said.
Toronto police said they had raised the case at an annual fugitive investigator training conference in 2016 with US Marshals, who cracked it with the help of facial recognition software.
"I want to encourage other families with missing children and loved ones not to ever, ever give up hope in finding them," Ms Mann-Lewis said. "I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, 31 long years, one should never give up.
"Be patient, be strong and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire."
Ms Mann-Lewis described seeing her adult son for the first time, cooking for him and meeting one of his friends: "I grabbed him and squeezed his head, I wanted to know that he was real... I touched him. I said 'Oh my God! My baby!'"
She said her son hugged and kissed her back, and commented to her: "Mommy you have my eyes."