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Mar 30, 2004

F.B.I. nabs U.S. kidnapper in Belize

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A tourist on vacation in Belize has cracked an international parental kidnapping case, just by being observant. Barb Quinlan and her fiancé, residents of Minnesota, were visiting San Pedro in early February and spotted fellow American David Clenney and his four-year-old son Jake. It’s not clear what triggered Quinlan’s suspicions about the man and his young son, but she decided to have her fiancé take this picture…with David Clenney being the man in the background. They engaged Clenney in conversation and found out they were from Texas. When Quinlan got home, she visited the website of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, linking with the site for children missing from the state of Texas. Within seconds, she was staring at faces they’d just left in Belize. Turns out David Clenney separated from his wife Heather last year and the couple were sharing custody of four-year-old Jake. But on July twenty-sixth the pair disappeared, using forged papers to get Jake out of the country and winding up in San Pedro. According to local authorities, the father and son had taken up residence on Sea Grape Street. Within days of being identified, the F.B.I. were liasing with the Solicitor General’s office in Belmopan to arrange to have Clenney picked up. The F.B.I. arrived last Thursday and by Friday afternoon, a stoic David Clenney was in custody bound for the U.S.A., and young Jake Clenney was in mother’s arms. According to the U.S. officials, this is a rare success, as there are presently one thousand, one hundred open cases of foreign child abduction. News 5 understands that Belize is one of fifty-three countries that have signed on to a convention that mandates international cooperation in such cases. But certainly, this one would never have been solved were it not for the keen eyes of a concerned visitor.

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