Breaking: Dateline Finding Savanna to Air Friday, August 7, 2015

Dateline Finding Savanna

This show will air on Friday, August 7, 2015.


36 Responses to Breaking: Dateline Finding Savanna to Air Friday, August 7, 2015

  1. underwatch says:

    Hi All,

    I just watched the Dateline Episode: Finding Savanna Todd.

    For those of us in the Family Abduction Community that have been or are searching or recovering parents of a International or Domestic Family Abduction or their family members or friends — this story by Dateline showed the emotion and feeling the searching parent. This is really a horrible crime against an innocent child and there should never be a justifiable excuse for committing this crime.

    We have been following the chatter on Twitter and many believe that the jail time that Dorothy Lee Barnett for International Kidnapping and Passport Fraud was not long enough. There are many that believe that Savanna is cold and not yet able to truly understand what happened to her. I personally wonder if she is receiving therapy from a professional therapist. I believe that both the Barnett Family and friends like Patricia Roth are also unable to accept and acknowledge the really horrible nature of this crime against an innocent child. Shame on them.

    Finally, we are very sad that Savanna can’t find the courage to have a continuing relationship with her Yale-educated father, Harris Todd. That said, we do believe that she received some of his DNA and have not given up on her yet.

    The Editor

    • Merton says:

      It’s not entirely surprising that this daughter is reportedly unwilling to draw closer to her biological father. I remember the Carlina White case where the child was kidnapped and raised by someone with absolutely no biological relationship to her whatsoever. Although in that case it was White’s own efforts that led to her biological family, she became estranged from her biological parents a few days after meeting them and continued using the name she had been raised with, but later reports indicated that this relationship has since warmed up to some extent. In this case, I think that this daughter is probably not yet ready to give up using the name she was raised with, and she may not yet be ready to have her biological father involved in her life to the extent he may want. Another contributing factor may be the extremely long distance between where the father and the daughter currently reside. I think “slow and steady” would be the best approach here for both sides. I believe the best chances of a significant improvement in this father-daughter relationship would be when one or more of the following occurs: (1) either side encounters major personal issues such as health concerns; (2) one side decides to move geographically close to the other side; (3) the daughter starts her own family.

      • underwatch says:

        Hi Merton,

        Thanks for posting a comment to the blog.

        I wonder of the Barnett Family as well as those friends such have Patricia Roth or Patty Roth have urged Savanna/Samantha to see a Reunification Therapists? There are many top therapists in the World that have specialized in these type of reunifications. If Savanna were found before she turned 18, the courts would have ordered the custodial father to bring Savanna/Samantha to therapy. The therapist would not have allowed the child or the family to be exploited in the media like occurs in many of these cases. There are some of us that think that Savanna likes the media attention — and all of know that Dorothy does.

        I have heard of cases where as the adult-child victim gets older that they fully realize what occurred to them. As you said, when the daughter starts her own family, that might be the moment.

        Since will be required to stay in Charleston during her probation and may never be able to return to Australia because of the Felony Conviction — there will be opportunities for Savanna to get to know her father. What is troubling for me is that she is so warm with her mother’s relatives and so cold with her biological father and his family.

        – The Editor

      • Lorraine says:

        Editor, I think you might find that pigs will fly before Dorothy Lee Barnett (or whatever name she calls herself) is permitted entry back into Australia. The greater than 12 months jail sentence is icky for her. But, not as icky as having entered and lived in Australia on false documentation and then having to be extradited. The besties up on the Sunshine Coast, well they can huff and puff all the way to Mal’s electoral office, but Mal won’t be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat regardless of how much might be tipped into his re-election campaign fund.

      • underwatch says:


        This is nice to know and should deter others from engaging in this crime.

        If Savanna wants to see Lee, she will have to come to the United States to Charleston. I would really like to see Savanna see her father again.

        I read too much about Bruce Michell, maybe he too has moved on to more productive causes. It’s also nice to hear that Mal Brough appears to have distanced himself.

        I hope you had an opportunity to view the Dateline story. It was one of the first to tell Harris Todd’s side of the story. I’m not certain those viewers were very sympathetic toward Savanna.

        Thanks again.

        The Editor

      • Merton says:

        On another note, the way in which this mother got herself exposed reminds me of the saying, “When wine sinks, words swim.” This would especially be true if the drinks involved that day did indeed contain alcohol!

    • Alma Hegwood says:

      It makes me sick that this evil woman did this and got her way. Scarred Savannah for life, and only got 21 months. She should have got day for day that she kept that child from her Dad. I have sat and watched 2 of my grandbabies lives be ruined by a spiteful father who went against every ruling the court made. He didn’t have to run. The cops would never enforce the courts rulings. They would say it was civil. My daughter spent 10’s of thousands of dollars. He did the same thing that evil woman did. He would tell anyone who would listen that he was protecting his kids. That they were abused at their moms house. All the professional people that interviewed them agreed their was never any abuse at their moms. But their was at the dads. Still the cops wouldn’t enforce the courts ruling. So I feel so much for the man.

  2. E says:

    Somethings to consider:
    1) Dateline revealed that Dorothy Lee Barnett was planning to abduct the child long before she raised any abuse allegations (they did not go into detail about the evidence discovered). Barnett was also said to have made remarks to the father that she would take the baby, and they’d be better off without him.
    2) The so called abuse incident raised by Dorothy was thoroughly investigated and determined to be a common fall most children that age experience. Two separate pediatricians looked into it at the time, and the incident was again investigated before filing charges against Dorothy – NO abuse was substantiated.
    3) From the time she was young, Dorothy insisted on telling Samantha this other man is her real father, and instilling in her that he is her father. This is classic parental alienation behavior. From a child’s perspective, Samantha would feel her father died. And now that Dorothy is going to jail, she would lose the only other parent she had bonded with. She is probably taking Dorothy’s side because of the fear of being alone, and because she has been manipulated or brainwashed all of her life.
    4) In another article it said Dorothy was turned in because she accidentally called Samantha by her former name: “ABC News 4 reports that during an outing with friends in Australia, after a few drinks, Barnett (who then went by the name Alexandra Geldenheys) slipped and called Samantha by her birth name Savanna. A friend thought it was odd and then did some research. She found missing photos of Savanna on the Internet and called Harris and the FBI..”
    So if Dorothy slipped up this time.. how many others? Dorothy had a few fake names herself. This raises the question on what Samantha knew, and again is another red flag for alienation. You rob a child of their name, you take their identity and sense of belonging.
    5) Faye Yager admits there was no clear evidence of abuse, and she helped Dorothy escape anyways. At the time Dorothy was diagnosed with bi-polar and was supposed to be in supervised visits. So Yager endangered this child – and should also be criminally charged (in my opinion).

    “It’s believed Barnett enlisted the help of Faye Yager, owner of an organization called Children of the Underground, which helps women escape abusive relationships.
    Yager uses her ‘contacts’ to securely hide the women – getting friends to make small credit card transactions all over the world, driving their car to somewhere random, and leaving behind misleading ‘clues’.
    Barnett had left behind a map of South America, however its believed she first fled to South Africa.
    When approached on why she would help Barnett, considering there was no evidence Todd had been abusive, Yeger said the case was ‘exceptional’.”

  3. E says:

    Stephen Schofield says he turned Dorothy Barnett in for moral reasons and that, “I have absolutely no remorse. Nobody has the right to deny children access to their parents.” Mr Schofield said his real hope was that Sam would be able to know her father and extended family without her mother interfering.

    Schofield said, “He had been close to Juan (step-father) who told him the truth of Sam’s parentage which Mr Schofield kept secret for 10 years.” Initially Schofield believed the story that Alex/Dorothy fled an abusive situation to protect her child but changed his mind after, ““But as I saw what Alex did over the years it bothered me to the point where I said to my wife ‘I think we’re wrong, I don’t believe the story any more and I need to find out.”

    Schofield has since become the victim of retaliation from Dorothy’s supporters.

    • underwatch says:

      Stephen Scholfield our hero in this case! Dorothy Lee’s supporters have not moral character or integrity. I feel sorry for their children. I would hope that someday Samantha will have the intellect, compassion and integrity to thank Stephen Scholfield.

  4. underwatch says:

    Thanks E, some very perceptive comments about this case. In item 3, you point out the emotional impact of a parental kidnapping on the victim child. That issue is rarely in the media. Hopefully, there are not many parents in this world that would intentionally harm their own child like that.

    Thank again for your post.

    • Lorraine says:

      Below sums up the difference in parentally-abducted children’s ability to make sense of what happened to them when they are returned to their homeland or discover who they are. It is apparent that the minors referred to below, on being returned to their homeland, received appropriate levels of therapy and other much-needed support to help them resettle. It is telling from their conduct that Dot’s, Genevieve’s and Eileen’s turned-adult children when found, and since then, have received no such professional support to help them work through what happened to them.

      Extract from article in the Sunshine Coast Daily – “Sisters in custody row set the record straight on their dad” 13 April 2015
      “THE Italian sisters who made headlines around the world after they were forcibly removed from their Sunshine Coast home now say their father is not the violent man they portrayed him at the time.

      C and E, now aged 17 and 16, say they are happy with their lives in Italy.”

      Further extract from same article:

      “The case sparked intense coverage on the Sunshine Coast with locals and the Catholic Church where the girls attended rallying behind them and the mother.

      The four girls had not seen their mother since they left her Sunshine Coast home that night, not because she is prohibited from seeing them but because she has not visited.

      “(It’s) just because she’s got uni and work, that’s the main thing,” C said.”

      60 Minutes filmed a further story “The Italian Girls” which aired on 12 April 2015. I found that story on Youtube. A postscript to the story said that the mother visited a few days after the filming.

  5. Patti says:

    I am a mother to two teenaged sons. Their Dad has neglected to be involved in their lives for almost three years that we have been separated, recently married and moved to the Middle East (no connection to the Mid-East, just following the new wife to a job).

    He justifies leaving his children by saying he was denied access to the boys. We never had a court-ordered custody agreement and, though the children lived with me for practical reasons, he had open access to them. In fact, I practically begged him to be a better dad…

    He is a narcissist and rather than owning his actions and acknowledging his neglect, he blames me, says I am a terrible person, lies, lies, lies.

    I’m pretty angry that he has never made the boys his priority in life… ever. He attempts to use that anger to try to convince people that I’m not particularly stable. He manipulates and twists everything to make himself look good and me look nuts.

    Luckily for us, his true priority is himself… So he has never actually fought for custody. I raise the boys by myself and am completely dedicated to them and their needs and well-being. He has neglected and abandoned them. And blames me for it.

    Please be careful when judging these types of situations. We don’t know the whole story. It seems to me that there is a possibility that this dad was the same personality as my ex, but had the finances to gain custody. He also seems to have had a greater desire to ‘win’ than my ex, who actually preferred the ability to just walk away from his responsibility; with no guilt or regret as he has twisted everything to make it seem to be MY fault. And he didn’t have a choice but to move on…

    Had I lost custody of my children to their manipulative, narcissistic father, I can honestly say that I may have done the same.

    • Lorraine says:

      Extraordinary as it is, Barnett was the second of two Mountain Creek-resident women who had parentally-abducted offspring, and who in quick succession repeatedly made it to the front pages of Australian newspapers. Why anyone would hole up at Mountain Creek is beyond me. It might have been the swarms of sandflies and mosquitoes that also call that part of the world home that attracted them to that quiet out-of-the-way backwater.

      The first one (she at least was an Australian citizen) parentally-abducted her children from their home in Italy. She played the media, the Courts and the Australian people like a fiddle. Her and her family’s lies, propaganda and antics knew no bounds. Eventually, the children were rightfully returned to their homeland. 60 Minutes recently did another interview on this sad story, this time in Italy with the eldest children who admitted that their father had never been or done any of the things that he was so viciously and maliciously accused of. Also, this woman decided not to reunite with her children in Italy and be part of the rest of their childhoods, not because there is any legal hindrance in her doing so but simply because she chooses not to.

      By the time Barnett made to the front page of Australian newspapers, the long-suffering Australian authorities and Australian people had long tired of being played like a fiddle. Barnett had knowingly entered Australia on false documentation. Taking on-board that we are now living in the information overload era, I do not accept that she would not have known that she was wanted by the FBI when she falsely entered Australia. What a saga until she was eventually extradited back to the US! Also, what a waste of Australian taxpayer money! That money would have been better channelled into something that made the lives of not-so-fortunate Australian people a little better.

      If you think the Barnett way would be the way to go, you might need to check out with Dot how she enjoyed her time in prison.

  6. […] Dateline also aired the story in August 2015 and interviewed the father. See that video. […]

  7. Mitch says:

    Harris Todd, very creepy.

    • underwatch says:

      Mitch, you should watch the Dateline Story to see a more balanced perspective. This father is a Yale grad which says more than Dorothy, a college drop out and felon. There is no excuse for kidnapping a child, Dorothy should gave received 20 years in prison.

      There is very little ignorant people like you know about being the victim of a Family Abduction. You should look in the mirror to see the only creep here. Hopefully, you are not a parent.

      • Jack says:

        I agree that Harris Todd is very creepy and why was it okay for him to portray his wife as having a mental illness and taking her to a Dr that she thought they were both going to to get counseling and it was all a setup I’m extremely happy that she was able to take her daughter and flee the country to raise Savanah,so what he was a Yale graduate big deal ,she raised 2 beautiful children healthy and happy. .

      • underwatch says:

        Jack, I recollect she was drinking alcohol when she was pregnant. What would you do if your wife or GF was going to bars or club, drinking and smoking, looking to move on to the next relationship before your son or daughter was born? I am certain you know GFs your age that would do that. Isn’t it possible thar Dorothy Lee was one of those?

        Why wasn’t Dorothy like her brother Cliff, finished college and moved on to become a professional? So Dorothy went from college drop out to flight attendant to mother to fugitive to felon. That doesn’t sound like a mom of the year!

    • Debbie W says:

      I saw nothing creepy about that man. He loves his daughter and never gave up on finding her. WHen he did, he didn’t push it and gave her space. The opposite of creepy.

      • Agreed Debbie W. I saw nothing that was off or creepy about how Harris approached his daughter’s shock of finding out that her father was looking for her this whole time.
        He approached it the same way every searching parent should approach it. Take your time and let her make the first move.

      • Lorraine says:

        What we know in Australia from media reports is that Mr Todd would have liked to have travelled to Australia once discovery of his daughter had been confirmed. But, the FBI did not want their further investigation jeopardised.

        Two years of FBI investigations later (Barnett’s just about every movement had to be verified from the time of her leaving Charleston) when Barnett was taken into custody, my understanding is that he did fly to Australia. But, the daughter – who was well and truly in the clutches of her mother, her mother’s support bases both in Australia and in the US and a paying-a-lot-of-money for her story without checking facts second-rate current affairs program – declined to meet with her father.

        Barnett’s Sunshine Coast support base did a number on Mr Todd, in their efforts to keep the illegal and FBI-wanted in Australia. One would have thought Mr Todd was the axe murderer from what they spewed forth. Her Sunshine Coast support base have a lot of money, and they trotted out with steel rods up clacker and a sense of self-importance only to find that their political connections were all mouth and couldn’t save the day. It is quite amusing thinking that they could take on the FBI, and override the extradition treaty obligations between Australia and the US.

        The interviews of Mr Todd that showed in Australia were of a gentle, loving and gentile man who had never given up hope in finding his daughter.

        There were several more interviews with the daughter. Among other things, she believes she is not a victim. Do I have news for her! As well, the daughter has to get through the rest of her life, and there is a big hole in it from her past. So, the daughter can trot around with her “I am a princess” mindset, but the day will come when she naturally chooses to ditch her mother’s values and the interference of the mother’s support bases. When that day arrives, she will see her father as a loving and caring father who never gave up hope of finding his beloved daughter.

        The other Mountain Creek ‘napper (coincidentally living a street or two in distance from Barnett) – her children were returned to their homeland and their father. These children had the benefit of receiving professional ongoing support and therapy on their return, something which Mr Todd’s daughter has not received. The difference between the other children and Mr Todd’s daughter is that Savannah Todd is still in denial.

  8. Yvonne says:

    Lee ruined so many lives with her selfishness and cowardice. I can’t believe her daughter supports her. Her mother has now raised a woman who thinks it’s okay to break the law if you think it is for a good reason. Harris is better of not having either in his life. Too much drama!

    • Lorraine says:

      I agree with your comment that Barnett is a very selfish and cowardly person. Regardless of whatever Barnett, her buddie sets or her daughter spew forth, Barnett’s law-breaking caught up with her. But, luck was on her side in that she was punished leniently for her crimes.

      Both of Barnett’s children will suffer for the rest of their lives for their mother’s wrongdoings, regardless of whether they pretend otherwise.

  9. Erics says:

    It’s no surprise Savannah defends her rotten mother. Lee is a master sociopath and has had the opportunity to work her evil on her kid for 20 yrs! I detest people like Lee and hope Harris is correct as he pointed out the maybe she will get some clarity now that she has some space. Harris and his “side” are the ones with the right to be angry and hostile but instead have been gentle and loving with Savannah. This poor man did nothing and I pray she sees what happened to him and how gracious and intelligent he’s treating her. I think she’ll come around, people naturally gravitate to the positive atmosphere.

    • Savanna has stockholme syndrome. She identifies with her mother because she’s been kept from her father for so long that she just feels that her mother is the only one that she can rely on.

  10. GiaGiaL says:

    Huh? Hello? what Lee did was brave. obviously many have not experienced the corrupt law system. If the judge had given an 50/50 custody instead of 100% custody to the dad, perhaps there would have been no reason to feel cornered. The man didn’t care about the pregnancy in the beginning. He only wanted to hurt Lee. That was his goal, to bring her down…BLIND observers!

    • Margo/Mom says:

      I have read a lot about “the corrupt law system” in conjunction with child abduction–as if there is a monolithic system in place. In fact, this is far from the truth. Fifty states have their own systems in place, and most parse responsibility out to a very local level (such as the county). Now is it possible that corruption may exist in some places–of course it is. However, the folks who talk about “the corrupt law system” don’t seem to feel a need to present specific evidence tied to specific courts–relying instead on blanket statements about a “corrupt system.” Further, such voices never seem interested in supporting reforms, such as supportive services to ensure the safe nurturance of children whose parents may face very real challenges (unemployment, addictions, abusive spouses/partners, poverty, etc), or mediation services as appropriate for separating parents to work through their own custody decisions. Instead they choose to focus on a very few high profile cases, with a seeming preference for abduction as a rational solution to custody disagreements.

      • Adela says:

        Margo, either you have not read enough or you haven’t found real advocates. Yes, there’s the protective parent movement which is a cancer that is fighting against father’s rights in general and paints all dads as abusive. But most groups are the opposite: they’re formed mainly of dads mistreated by courts in very specific counties and show exactly how corrupted certain ones are. Those ones are all for reform, accountability and ways of dealing with estranged children, and do not consider abduction as a valid way of fighting, because no matter how horrible they’re treated, their children deserve better than living in the underground.

      • underwatch says:

        Hi Adela,

        Please send links to the “groups” and we will consider posting a page to promote your groups. In our experience, the FR groups have had a difficult time with a lack of funding promoting “joint custody” and “coparenting”. There are groups such as Children’s Rights Council, but support for those types of groups is minimal. What helped the protective parent movement was the funds available from the DV Community. It is unfortunate that in the ’90s, funds from the VAWA were inappropriate used by the “protective parent” movement in certain cases. There are DV Shelters that directly supported underground moms. If anything, now that Rita Smith the former Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and long-time supporter of the “protective parent movement” was appointed as a consultant to the National Football League — the protective parent movement/family court critics and DV community may believe they have more credibility. There was a time when we thought the DV community had finally evolved to the Family Violence Community, but we don’t think that’s the case anymore. The Family Court Critics are pressuring judges through social media and we believe that furthers this gender war against dads and the coparenting cause. In any regard, please show us your list of “groups”. We think some of those dads stories may be being exploited by the Family Court Critic Movement.

    • Lorraine says:

      GiaGiaL, Dorothy Lee Barnett is many things but brave is not one of them. Your “what if’s” wouldn’t get a heads-up from Judge Judy. Reality is Dot took the law into her own hands, over and over again. Your bud eventually found her way to my country illegally, and then as an illegal attempted to fight extradition. The daughter was trotted out for the hanky set. Even bud Patti was trotted out. Mal was going to talk to George and put the FBI in its place, and it went on until Dot boarded that plane. Dot pleaded guilty. The motto is that it is best to work within the parameters of the law than to take the law into one’s own hands.

  11. Adela says:

    Hi Editor, I’m doing a compilation of sites and will get back to you. Have a nice week.

    • underwatch says:

      Adela, I read the case of John Myser. He has Michelle MacDonald as his attorney. His case that the judge was not sworn in seems farfetched. His situation is unfortunate and it seems the former spouse is leveraging a single incident. That said, why not work to win back the trust of the court rather than attack the Family Courts.

      • Margo/Mom says:

        Not familiar with John Myser, but he was apparently one of two disrupters who were escorted from the courtroom yesterday at the Grazzini-Rucki trial. Apparently he was leafletting and also announced Grazzini-Rucki’s innocence.

        Just an observation, but it seems as though there are a number of folks circling the G-R trial who put considerable time and effort into shooting themselves in the foot. Consider Evavold representing herself AND sending hostile accusations to the court about rigged charges. Michelle McDonald seems to have her own “issues” (as my kids say)–spurring an incident during one of the earlier G-R hearings in family court by recording/taking pictures in violation of rules. When challenged by the bailiff during a break she refused to give her name–spurring a ridiculous situation in which she was wheeled back into the courtroom in a wheel-chair and complaining about her inability to properly defend her client. I haven’t read up on Grigsby yet, but I have seen the term “controversial” attached to him.

        Not a psychologist, but does anyone else suspect some group-ordered pathology here?

      • Adela says:

        I think any party that has Michelle McDonald as attorney can be placed into the Protective Parent movement and can be dismissed. That is not a good example of fathers rights cases.

      • underwatch says:

        I don’t think you can unilaterally say that just because someone hired Michelle MacDonald as their attorney that case should be dismissed. Some of protester John Myser’s case is online. The angle that MacDonald is using is that the judge was never sworn in appears to be farfetched. Why wouldn’t he just ask for a new custody evaluation and show the courts he is a good enough parent for joint custody.

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