20 Year Parental Kidnapper Dorothy Lee Barnett Hires U.S. Criminal Defense Attorney

April 18, 2014

Samantha Geldenhuys, Harris Todd

“I never expected to have more love in my heart for any other person in my life and I do for my daughter. Nothing is going to change that – nothing,”  — Harris Todd

The Dorothy Lee Barnett story finally began to move forward on Thursday, 17 April 2014 in a Queensland Maroochydore Court Room. Just months after Barnett asked the public for money to support her legal defense, she has hired Criminal Defense Attorney Russell W. Mace III.

Russell Mace III

Russell Mace III – Criminal Defense Attorney for Dorothy Lee Barnett

It appears Dorothy Lee Barnett and her family now have the funds to hire Barnett’s third team of attorneys, two in Australia and now the Mace Firm that has four offices in the United States – Charleston, Miami, Myrtle Beach and New York. It was only back in November, that Barnett was claiming that she had to mortgage her house in Australia to pay for a flight to her former spouse’s funeral. Then  it was reported that she received hundreds of thousands of dollars for a TV Interview and then an online fund raising campaign. In most of these cases, the parental kidnapper will claim they are indigent so that their legal fees are paid by the Public Defender’s Office, but money will surface for a private attorney like Russell Mace III. Barnett has been incarcerated in an Australian Jail and considered a high flight risk for the 20 year parental kidnapping and passport fraud charges as she awaits extradition to the United States.

According to Russell Mace, “She has agreed to come to South Carolina, I expect her to be back here within the next two months.” Mace further elaborated “she intends to forgo any further challenges”.

Editor’s Note: In monitoring these parental kidnapping cases over the past 20 years, we anticipate that Dorothy Lee Barnett will most likely change her mind and use every possible legal alternative to fight her extradition. She will find every possible forum including the media. I sincerely doubt that she will not forgo any further challenges and the worst thing that could happen would be for her to get bail and wind up in Belize or some other foreign country. Meanwhile, the money that should be used to compensate her victims including her own daughter is going to her legal defense.

I believe it is time for Dorothy Lee Barnett to take ownership and responsibility for the horrible crime she inflicted on her own child that deprived her former spouse Harris Todd of being able to be a father. I’ve heard from many father’s that one of the most cherish and special moment’s of a man’s life is when his child is born. I am so tired of hearing excuses and criticisms from Dorothy Lee Barnett and how she was wronged by our world’s judicial system and it’s time that she tell her story in the place where it all started.


Breaking News: Savanna Todd’s Father Speaks Out – Monday, March 10, 2014 6 p.m. ET

March 10, 2014

A Special Report: Savanna Todd’s Father Speaks to ABC News Reporter Dean Stephens – For the first time since the arrest of his former spouse Dorothy Lee Barnett, Harris Todd will be make his give his first interview to Veteran ABC News Reporter Dean Stephens. The interview will be broadcasted by ABC at 6 p.m. Eastern Time (Tuesday, March 11, 2013 8:00 AM AEST). In November 2013, Dorothy Lee Barnett was arrested in Australia for the 20 year Parental Kidnapping of Savanna Todd and for Passport Forgery. Dorothy Lee Barnett’s Extradition Case in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court is scheduled to resume this week in Australia.

Click on the Image below to view the the Video. Part 2 of this Video will on Tuesday, March 11, 2012 6 p.m. Eastern time (Wednesday, March 12, 2013 8:00 AM AEST).


A Comment from a Friend of Savanna’s Father

November 26, 2013

This comment was posted on our website this week by a person named Ruth. In all my years of following these cases including several high-profile ones, I have never before encountered one like this that summarizes the the past and current situation for all parties involved. Thank you Ruth for posting this.

“I’ve known Harris Todd my whole life and can attest to his good character and profound heartbreak over losing the opportunity to be a part of his child’s life. I do not know Lee and am only able to judge by her actions, but hopefully after a great deal of dust has settled this unbelievable saga will move toward an equally hard to believe productive outcome and Savanna will find a way to accept and love both of the people who love her and brought her into the world.

Savanna’s mother did not lose custody “because she was diagnosed as bipolar” as has repeatedly and sloppily been reported in the media. Among other things, she refused treatment for an apparent disorder and repeatedly acted in ways that put Savanna at risk throughout her pregnancy. Despite this, the father never had any intention of preventing Savanna’s mother from being a part of her life. He wanted Savanna’s mother to seek treatment so that they could both be parents parent to a child they both loved. I am sure the sting of being a new mother and losing full custody of one’s baby (especially in the South Carolina of 19 years ago) was humiliating and beyond what Lee thought she could bear, but clearly there was a better way out of what she thought was an intolerable situation.

The abducted child in question has been raised according to the fictional narrative that her father was abusive to her mother. Not surprisingly the child is siding with the only parent she has ever known and not with a father she does not know and never has been allowed to know.

Both parents have a right to be involved with rearing their children regardless of their gender, regardless of whatever love has been lost between the two parents, and regardless of any animosity and anger incurred as a result of not being awarded full custody. Whatever happens moving forward, one thing is certain: the father in this case has been unjustly disconnected and alienated from his child. How this injustice will be dealt with is an open question, but hopefully the fact that two parents love this child will factor into the decision.”

— Ruth

Bail or No Bail for Dorothy Barnett

November 20, 2013

After 20 years of evading U.S. Authorities including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Dorothy Lee Barnett, the underground mom’s Bail Hearing Dorothy Lee Barnettcontinues on Thursday in Australia. In 1993, Dorothy ignored a Custody Order giving the father of her now 20 year old child, custody. The father has not seen or spoken to his daughter since.

It is alleged that Dorothy Lee Barnett received assistance from the Children of the Underground Group in Atlanta, Georgia. Although her parents and family members in Seattle, Washington and Florida will take the position that they did not assist Barnett while she lived underground.

We have seen a copy of the Protective Parent Underground Book that was written in the ’90s by H. Joan Pennington and Laurie Woods. The book advises protective parent mothers to seek different forums for their custody case. In following these cases over the years, it would not surprise us to hear that if Dorothy Barnett didn’t trust the Australian Court System with her probable extradition to the United States, she might flee that venue to New Zealand or some other country.

The problem with these cases is that these underground moms like Dorothy Barnett don’t believe in any criminal justice system. They are not interested in following the rules that the rest of the society does. And after hiding successfully from authorities for 20 years, why all of a sudden is she to be trusted. Would you trust Dorothy Barnett with your $100,000 if she deeds you her house? Would you trust her with your $1 Million dollars? What about $10 Million?

We would like to see Dorothy Barnett stand trial in the United States of America for parental kidnapping just like we would like to see any Australian parent who kidnaps their child to the USA rightfully extradited to Australia.

Breaking News: Dorothy Barnett Finally Arrested After 20 Years

November 14, 2013

Dorothy Barnett Arrested Australia

After nearly 20 years, Dorothy Barnett an Underground Mom and parental kidnapper of Savanna Todd was finally arrested in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in Australia. In 1993, Dorothy Barnett fled Isle of Palms, South Carolina using a falsified United States Passport with her then infant child. She was allegedly assisted by Faye Yager’s Children of the Underground Organization. Faye Yager appeared on several U.S. Television Talk Shows discussing the Dorothy Barnett Parental Kidnapping Case.

Like many Children of the Underground Cases that we’ve followed for the past two decades, Dorothy Lee Barnett fled Underground after losing primary custody to the child’s father. We understand Dorothy Barnett first fled to Frankfurt, Germany. Several years later traveled to South Africa and married a man named Juan Geldenhyus. I recollect at around that time, other searching fathers received rumors that there were Children of the Underground Mothers in Germany, France, Costa Rica and South Africa. Apparently, Ms. Barnett fled to New Zeland with her new husband and then later to Australia. Since Elizabeth Morgan fled to New Zealand in the ’80s, there have been only one previous child of the Children of the Underground found in New Zealand or Australia.

The arrest and probable future extradition of Dorothy Lee Barnett for Forgery of False Use of a U.S. Passport carries a maximum sentence in the United States of 10 years. The Parental Kidnapping Crime carries a sentence of up to 3 years. The arrest of Dorothy Barnett is also a celebration for the International Family Abduction Community of Searching and Recovering Parents. Over the past four decades we have seen:

  • Our  Family Law Courts have moved from Maternal Custody to Joint Custody to Co-Parenting
  • Our Nation’s Child Protective Services Systems have matured
  • And finally our law enforcement organizations and courts have taken great measures to enforce Domestic and International Family Abduction Crimes

What this means that parental underground mothers like Dorothy Barnett cannot claim the “necessity defense” or fleeing from an accusation of “family violence” as a defense to a parental kidnapping crime. As we have seen in the criminal trials of these underground cases, the underground moms never exhausted their legal remedies before they left. In the Barnett case, she left most likely after a Family Court Evaluation and Family Law Judge ordered primary custody to the father and supervised visitation to the mother. And as we have seen in these cases, the motive is always for anger and revenge and not for protection of the child.

Dorothy Barnett is also not the first Underground Mother to get divorced while Underground. April Meyer, fled underground with husband number 2 with husband number 1’s child, then got divorced and married husband number 3 while in hiding. We imagine that Dorothy Barnett is narcissistic and manipulative like most underground mothers.

Finally, on behalf of the Family Abduction Community, we applaud the efforts of the recovering parent. We have followed his case over the years and recollect that he spent thousands of hours searching for his daughter Savanna including going on Television Talk Shows. Most searching parents rarely get that kind of opportunity but in this case, this father did. As we have found in these cases, parents like Dorothy Barnett were not thinking of their child when they went underground, they were thinking of themselves.

There are now three things that need to occur in this case:

  1.  The most important is for Savanna Geldenhyus to prove that she is in the elite of the recovered adult children. To do so, she would need to do only one thing, she would need to call her father Harris up and start a reunification process. A simple phone call is the start. There is no way that Dorothy Barnett can ever prove in a jury trial that she had any reasonable excuse for committing this crime. If Dorthy Barnett had any credibility to her allegations, she could have just taken her custody time and stayed South Carolina. It’s so sad that Savanna has grown up without knowing her father who lives in the exclusive Isle of Palms Community on the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina. What we have seen in other underground cases is that there is so much opportunity a child misses while in hiding, and Savanna can still reap the benefits of having a relationship with her father if she acts quickly and maturely with this decision. We’ve seen far to many really horrible reunifications where the arrested parents continues to alienate the child against the other parent.
  2. Dorothy Barnett must be extradited back to the United States as quickly as possible. A good benchmark for the Australian Courts is the Elian Gonzalez case where the United States sent the child back to Cuba.
  3. Dorothy Barnett must be charged and sentenced to prison by a United States Court.

The Editor, The Children of the Underground Watch


Law Catches up with mum 20 years after she fled with baby Savanna by Adam Shand and Sarah Elks, The Australian (November 14, 2013)

“The Kid Is With A Parent, How Bad Can It BE?”: The Crisis of Family Abductions by Ernie Allen