It’s Time to Extradite Alleged Parental Kidnapper Joanne McDowell

December 11, 2018

Alleged Parental Kidnapper Joanne McDowell (NC Felony Arrest Warrants Issued – Photo Credit: Carolina Public Press) 

In the United States, the last city/county that the parents lived in with the children has venue or jurisdiction over the case. So if one of the parents such as the case of Joanne McDowell wants to move to another city with the child, she will need the permission of that county Family Court. The mother can’t just move to another venue with the child which would be a parental kidnapping.

So it was apparent that Joanne McDowell didn’t want to stay in Hendersonville, North Carolina and share custody with her former spouse. And she did what many protective parents do, allegedly staged a video of her child after a custody transfer with related allegations against her former spouse, a physician. Does this sound familiar to those of us in the Family Abduction Community — you bet it does. This was a common tactic in the ’80s and ’90s. But the story doesn’t end her, Joanne McDowell who was in law school at Chapel Hill fled the jurisdiction and kidnapped her child to her native country Canada. And then she both shopped for a therapist in Canada and actually got a ignorant Canada Judge to give her custody. Wow, does that sound familiar — you bet it sadly does.

That was over 6 years ago and the Henderson County North Carolina elected District Attorney Greg Newman has filed Felony Kidnapping Charges against Joanne McDowell. But McDowell has somehow evaded the lame Hague Convention and has been extradited from Canada. Although not surprisingly, McDowell has not been able to finish law school at UNC Law School — and probably would more or less have difficultly becoming a lawyer in the United States with her felony charge.

We applaud Greg Newman for filing the felony charge against McDowell but would like to see some sort of justice for the father and child in this case. McDowell has wrongfully be able to obtain a Canadian Restraining Order against the father and his child which is pathetic. In most of these cases, the Canadian Judge should have had a phone conference with the U.S. Family Law Judge and ordered McDowell back to the United States. But the judge did not do that and allowed McDowell to venue shop. We think it is time for Newman to take steps to extradite McDowell. Possibly get a UFAP Warrant issued which Canada.

Editor’s Note: We don’t believe JoAnne McDowell is the victim here. We have seen her story before but it is time for a parent like her to step up for the Holidays and turn herself in to the North Carolina District Attorney. There is little doubt from looking at McDowell’s inflammatory posts on her social media accounts is that she has already engaged in parental alienation of her child. It is time for her to support a reunification of her child and his biological father. By doing so, maybe she could work to getting the felony warrant dropped and could return to law school in the United States. It’s probably not too late for her to finish her career path she started.

A final note on McDowell’s pathetic allegations against her former spouse. Dr. Katheleen Faller of the University of Michigan a very long time ago promoted a theory about these protective mom’s beliefs. She thought because McDowell’s former spouse was rejecting his wife in the marriage that the father must turning his affection to his child. When I heard about it back then I thought it was so disgusting it was not worth mentioning. But it seems that this ignorant mom might actually have this unreasonable belief. What’s so sad is that this particular mom has some even more pathetic friends that might actually believe her.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all the Searching Parents. We are keeping hope alive that these families will soon be reunified.

Dede Evavold Gets Jail, 8 Yrs Probation

November 14, 2016

Dede Evavold – Protective Mom – Can’t Be Around Children

In the end, on November 10, 2016 Minnesota Protective Parent Network leader Dede Evavold was sentenced to 180 days in jail, probation for 8 years and most importantly she can’t be around minor children.

This judge in Dakota County appears to be one of the only judges in America or the World to understand the tenets of the Protective Parent / Family Court Critic leaders like Dede Evavold. In this case, the punishment while only 3 months in jail is accompanied by 8 years probation. And like a child molester or abuser, she can’t be around minor children.

Dede Evavold Protective Parent Criminal Trial Resumes

September 29, 2016

Dede Evavold

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 5.57.48 PM

The leader of the Children of the Underground, Faye Yager was the most notorious protective parent movement member to go on trial in the ’90s in Cobb County, Georgia. Tragically, the District Attorney Rose Wing failed to get a criminal prosecution. Over twenty years later in Hastings, Minnesota protective parent movement member Dede Evavold is being prosecuted on six felony counts of deprivation of child custody in the Sandra Grazzini Rucki case. Instead of getting the assistance of protective parent attorneys like Faye Yager did, Evavold is representing herself. She is not an attorney.

It is being reported that on Day 4 of the Trial, Evavold provided no opening statement, no witnesses, no cross examination and no objections. Evavold refuses to do anything. Evavold previously rejected a plea deal.

This makes no sense whatsoever and it sounds like Dede Evavold is daring the judge and the jury to send her to prison. Inasmuch as the protective parent network of lawyers and supporters usually steps up to defend their own, even attorney Michelle MacDonald who is seen in this video with Sandra Rucki and Michelle MacDonald is a no show.

This video was shot in 2013 by these Minnesota Protective Parent Movement / Family Court Critic Supporters. Ironically, three years later Sandra Rucki is in jail, Dede Rutherford on trial and Michelle MacDonald is running for judge. This supports our conclusion that the motive for this crime in these cases is “anger and revenge” and not for “love and protection of the child.”

What Protective Parents Should NOT Do!

July 28, 2016

A message to the Protective Parent / Family Court Critics Movement, this is the end result if you engage in civil disobedience and kidnap your teenage children. There are always legal alternatives in child custody cases. There is no such thing as a permanent custody order. What would have been so bad about Joint Custody and Coparenting?



On July 28, 2016 in Dakota County, Minnesota, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was taken into custody after the jury found her guilty of 6 Felony Counts of Deprivation of Child Custody. She was released on a $100,000 Bail.

#stopfamilyabduction #familyabduction #protective parent #familycourtcritic #jointcustody #coparenting

A Teenager Family Abduction Case in Minnesota

July 14, 2016

Sandra Rucki Trial to Begin July 18th

In a Teenage Family Abduction Trial, Sandra Rucki has been charged in Dakota County with eight felonies in the kidnapping of her two teenage daughters.  Dede Evavold, Gina Dahlen and Doug Dahlen have also been charged as co-conspirators. The Jury Trial for Sandra Rucki is scheduled to begin on Monday, July 18, 2016.

As we approach this trial date, the Family Abduction Community of Victim Parents including both Recovering Parents and Searching Parents are closely following this case. This is one of the first cases in America where the District Attorney is also prosecuting the co-conspirators. In most International and Domestic Family Abduction Cases, the co-conspirators reside outside the jurisdiction. But in the Rucki Teenager Family Abduction, the girls were found in a nearby county in Herman, Minnesota.

The results of this case are important not only in deterring the crime of Teenager Family Abduction but sending the message to the Protective Parent and Family Court Critic Network cause that there will be severe penalties for those that engage in civil disobedience. After 9-11, when it became more difficult for protective parents to obtain a falsified United States Passport, it was thought that this cause had ended. But in recent years, there has been an  emergence of a small new movement of Family Court Critics/Protective Parents that are questioning the fitness of our Nation’s Family Court. They are attacking the Family Court Judges and the fathers in these cases on the Internet and in Social Media to support their cause. For many of these critics, it is  the same supporters that are against “joint custody” and “coparenting” and want the courts to bring back “maternal custody”.

In these cases, a defendant like Sandra Rucki is committed to the protective parent cause and wants a trial to promote herself and cause. Her supporters want the trial. But the co-conspirators like Gina Dahlen and Doug Dahlen may simply want to go on with their lives and may regret getting involved. On the other hand, they should have understood the severity of the crime of child kidnapping. A Family Abduction in the eyes of the searching parent is no different than a Stranger Abduction. Many of us feel that not allowing them any type of immunity and sending them to prison for some period may do more to deterring this crime. And for Sandra Rucki and her co-conspirator Dede Evavold, it is important that they receive long prison sentences for their crime.

As we get closer to a trial date, it’s likely that the District Attorney may want to save the county taxpayer’s the costs of these trials. The co-conspirators like the Dahlens will be doing everything they can to stay out of prison and the Felony Conviction. And Sandra Rucki may have an enlightened moment that when convicted, she might receive one of the longest prison sentences ever —  and finally arrive at the decision it would be in the best interests of her children that she plead guilty.

Exposing The Protective Mum Movement in Australia

February 24, 2016

In April  of 2013, Protective Mum Catherine Cassie Watter was no doubt seeking revenge against her former spouse. She had previously found some supporters at James Cook University School of School Work that were part of the “Protective Parent” or “Protective Mum” Movement in Australia. On that day, she kidnapped her children and went into hiding or the underground in Australia.

In Australia the most outspoken leaders of the Protective Parent Movement are from the Academic Community. Ros Thorpe (Rosamund Thorpe) is Adjunct Professor Emeritus at James Cook University. She is also President of the Family Inclusion network which is an advocacy organisation for social justice for children and families caught up in the child protection system.  Believe it or not, in July 2014, Professor Thorpe setup a website supporting parental kidnapper Cassie Watter. Dr. Freda Briggs, is an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Australia also spoke in the media to support accused parental kidnapper Cassie Watter who has been in hiding for over 2 years with her daughters.


Ros Thorpe – Prof Emeritus, James Cook University


Freda Briggs – Prof Emeritus, University of South Australia








The Professors are not the first in the academic community to support the protective parent or protective mum movement that is known for supporting parental kidnapping as an alternative in child custody cases. In the United States, Dr. Kathleen Faller of the University of Michigan and the late Hal Pepinsky of Indiana University supported Faye Yager and the protective parent movement. What is outrageous that in the Watter case, Professor Ros Thorpe actually purchased the website and published quotes promoting the “Protective Mother” Movement or Cause. The Professors in the United States were not so public in their support for this cause. That said, the support for these kidnapping cases always seems to come from an older person that is retiring at the end of their career like the now retired H. Joan Pennington of the National Center for Protective Parents in Trenton, New Jersey.

See these quotes from that website:

“Cassie Watter is a loving, caring and protective mum, who puts the needs of others above herself. Cassie is the sanest person I know even through all the adversity that she has suffered. Cassie values family above all else and is a fantastic mum. Her integrity, genuine caring and empathy for others are truly amazing to see. Cassie has a huge heart and is the first to help when others are in need. All of the qualities displayed by Cassie make and define Cassie as the beautiful person I know and admire.” – Mark Dunstan, Committed father, Social Worker, and Treasurer, Family Inclusion Network Queensland (Townsville) Inc., July 2014
“In the time that I have known Cassie Watter, I have observed her to consistently be the person described in other comments on this website from a wide range of people who support mainstream community values. I have observed her to consistently act in what she believes to be the paramount best interests of her children. I observed a very committed and protective mother. The public comments that I have read on this web site support Cassie as a mother, and as a person of value.” – Frank Reilly, Social Worker and FIN tsv volunteer worker, July 2014
“Cassie Watter – “tile grouter extraordinaire!” We have known Cassie for about 5 years and found her to be very generous with her time and skills. Her involvement in community projects led to her being nominated and receiving recognition for her good works. We spent quite a bit of time over the last few years with Cassie and her daughters, and witnessed a loving caring relationship between this highly protective mother and her gorgeous girls.” – Lynne & Bob Bartlett, July 2014

We don’t blame the custodial father in the Cassie Watter Family Abduction Case for his outage over Professors Thorpe and Briggs and their Universities that allows these members of the academic community to support a parental kidnapper. We too are outraged at the Administrators of these Universities. I am certain these are well respected educational institutions, but to the Family Abduction Community, this is horrific. Some students at these Universities should start a campaign to find these kidnapped children or pressure these professors to get the protective moms to turn themselves in and bring this matter before the Australia Family Courts where it belongs. As we have seen in the United States, these professors are selfishly more interested in publishing their research and books and promoting their reputations rather than the well-being of these kidnapped children.

Next, the Family Inclusion Network in Queensland (Townsville) where Ros Thorpe is the President. We are not certainly exactly what is shocking is that this group did not support Protective Mom Dorothy Lee Barnett who had ties to Faye Yager. With one of the biggest Protective Parent Cases in Australia, the Family Inclusion Network in Queensland never came forward to support Dorothy Lee Barnett. In following the protective parent for the past decade, I find it difficult or impossible that they were not following the case. Since the didn’t come forward, it usually means that they were involved in assisting Barnett. When Mal Brough got involved in the Barnett Case, it might have meant that some member of this group played an active role in arranging his support.

In the United States, there are three individuals that are currently awaiting trial for their assistance aiding and abetting in the kidnapping of two teenager girls in a family abduction. What needs to happen in the Watter Case is that Australian Law Enforcement needs to find these girls, arrest this mother and prosecute any third parties that are helping Cassie Watter.

In closing, “there should never be a reasonable legal excuse for a Domestic or International Parental Kidnapping”

– The Editor, Family Abduction Watch


Breaking: Charges Filed Against Dede Evavold, Gina & Doug Dahlen in Teenager Family Abduction

December 12, 2015
Dede Evavold

Dede Evavold – Protective Parent Network

Gina Dahlen

Gina Dahlen – Protective Parent Network

Doug Dahlen

Doug Dahlen – Protective Parent Network

In a historic Teenager Family Abduction Case in Minnesota, charges have been filed against Dede Evavold (Deirdre Elise Evavold) 51, Gina Dahlen (Gina Schmit Dahlen, 47) and Doug Dahlen (Douglas Craig Dahlen) 53. The Dahlens are the owners of White Horse Ranch in Herman, Minestoa. This is one of the few times that third party conspirators in parental kidnapping cases and the alleged members of the protective parent movement are being charged. In most Family Abduction cases, the third party conspirators are in other states or countries so prosectors have a difficult time prosecuting them. In the Rucki girls case, the children were found in the same state. Dede Evavold and the Dahlens have been charged with 2 counts of parental deprivation for their alleged role in hiding the girls.

“Concealing children and keeping them from a parent for over two and half years in violation of a court order is unconscionable,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.

Investigators believe Dede Evavold and Sandra Rucki brought the sisters to the ranch 2 1/2 years ago. Dede Evavold is the former campaign manager for Michelle MacDonald in her unsuccessful candidacy for Judge. Evvaold is a writer for Red Herring Alert and was a leader in the local Minnesota Protective Parent Network. Her profile was recently removed at Police used Gina Dahlen’s Facebook page to confirm the photos found on Evavold’s phone were taken at White Horse Ranch.

The Rucki sisters, now 16 and 17, were sent to an out-of-state reunification therapy program earlier this month. Their father, David Rucki, declined to comment. His attorney, Lisa Elliott, said reunification therapy “is going very well.”


Ranch owners, woman charged in hiding of Rucki sisters by Brandon Stahl (Star Tribune, 12-11-2015)

Dakota County Criminal  Complaints (Dede Evavold, Gina Dahlen | Doug Dahlen) – Read the Criminal Complaints

Editor’s Note: We applaud the efforts of Dakota County in prosecuting these third party conspirators in this Family Abduction Crime. Inasmuch as this network of Family Court Critics / protective parents have their criticism of our Nation’s Family Court System, committing civil disobedience is not the solution. Sandra Rucki and her attorney Michelle MacDonald had plenty of other legal alternatives before playing Judge, Jury and Executioner in this custody case. Any initiative to create an underground network for non-custodial parents to kidnap children is Minnesota, any other state in the United States or the World is morally wrong. It is also disrespectful to those in our child protection and family law communities.

A protest for Sandra Rucki sponsored by two protective parent organizations Safe Kids International and The Women’s Coalition is scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th at Sandra Rucki’s next hearing. These protective parent groups have a right to protest, but we feel that any group encouraging a teenager to stay in hiding such as they did on their Facebook page is a horrible act against a minor. These groups have some extremist views in encouraging vulternable custodial-embattled mothers to commit acts of civil disobedience. There are better alternatives than kidnapping your children or encouraging Teenagager Family Abductions.

Finally, the Horse at White Horse Ranch as well as Sandra Rucki’s Attorney Michelle MacDonald were not charged.

The Horse at White Horse Ranch

The Horse at White Horse Ranch

Michelle MacDonald Protective Parent Attorney

Michelle MacDonald, Protective Parent Attorney

Is The Family Court Critic Network the New Children of the Underground?

November 14, 2015

The code name is “protective parent” and most of the custodial-embattled extremists in the DV community know what it’s about. That’s when a parent almost always a mother will during or after a Family Court Custody dispute take the law into her own hands and kidnap her child. It’s been said, she acts as Judge, Jury and Executioner rather than abide by the court order of the Family Law Judge.

In the ’80s and ’90s this led to Faye Yager’s Children of the Underground and evolved to Protective Parent organizations. After September 11th, the U.S. increased controls over fradulent U.S. Passports and with the growth of the Intenet, it became more difficult for one to change their identity and hide. There was also an increase in awareness of the plight of missing children as well as the harmful impact of International and Domestic Family Abductions on young children. That’s about the time that the network of Family Court Critics started to surface. These groups started to crticizie the Family Courts that were now mandating that parents accept joint custody or co-parenting. This of course upset many those that wanted to roll back the clock to the days of maternal custody or when mothers could allege any allegation to automatically get sole custody and effectivly write the child out of their ex-husband’s life — except for his garnished child support payments. This would be the ulitmate act of anger of revenge over the failed marriage.

In the case of Sandra Rucki and the Famiy Court Critic Network that is allegedly assiting in hiding teenagers Samantha and Gianna Rucki — this group appears to be the new Underground or today’s “protective parent”. As one browses the Facebook and Twitter feeds, you can now see the supporters of this network “celebrate” or applaud the efforts of Sandra Rucki and her teenage daughters. There are some that are encouraging the girls to stay in hiding until they are eighteen. Just like extremists or terrorists, they are openly exercising their right to free speech to support the kidnapping of children.

There should never be any legal excuse for kidnapping a child. And the so called “necessity defense” / “competing harms defense”  or legal excuse that Sandra Rucki exhausted her legal remedies before deciding to deprieve her former spouse of his custody rights is absurd. Sandra Rucki and her attorney Michelle MacDonald had a number of reasonable and legal options.

There are reports that Sandra Rucki saw her son Nico in court during her bail hearing. Despite not seeing Nico for over 2 years, Sandra Rucki did not acknowledge his presence. What kind of parent is that? Despite losing custody rights, Sandra Rucki could have taken her supervised visitation and gone to therarpy to work toward convincing the courts that she could co-parent her children. Instead, she took the civil disobediance option like her protective parent predecessors. She was finally caught at a exclusive resort in Florida with a new boyfriend and is now in jail with a $1Million dollar bail – a place she rightfully deserves to be after all she has done.

But her daughters are still in hiding and the Family Court Critic Protective Parent Network is allegedly supporting them just like any extremist group. You can find these supporters on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. And if you look at their posts, they want to tell their stories how they lost custody of their children. How they were wronged by the Family Court System. They won’t admit that they engaged in parental alienation, would under no circumstances ever co-parent with their former spouse. They will provide their unqualifed support for a jailed mother like Sandra Rucki and her two teenage daughters that are not living their lives as high school teenagers like they should be.

We hope that law enforcement and our judicial system will prosecute some of the third party conspirators  in the Family Court Critic Protective Parent Network that are hiding the Rucki girls. That’s the only way our self-correcting legal system can build a better Family Court and Child Protection System in America.

Breaking: Police say Network of Family Court Critics Is Hiding the Rucki Girls

November 3, 2015

A story in the StarTribune is one of the first to link the Family Court Critics to the “protective parent” movement that police believe are responsible for hiding the Samantha and Gianna Rucki, the two teenager girls from Lakeville, Minnesota.

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In this case, the girls mother Sandra Rucki has been arrested and charged with three felony counts of deprivation of parental rights. Her controversial attorney Michelle MacDonald says that her client does not want police to find the girls.

In the story, Faye Yager is now claiming that she is still involved in the underground and that the network is accessed through social media, churches and women’s shelters. Yager has previously said she was retired and is no longer involved.

Amy Neustein, who lost custody of her child (now a successful attorney who has not spoken to her mom in years) is interviewed in the article. Cindy Dumas of San Diego claims to have reliable sources that the girls are underground and safe. Other possible accomplices in the felony counts could be Michael Rhedin and Dale Nathan. Dede Evavold, a campaign manager for Michelle MacDonald is named as a supporter of the Protective Parent Movement.

[Read the Article]

Editors Note: Our Nation’s Family Court System as well as our Child Protection System have many legal options for parents like Sandra Rucki. Kidnapping should never be an option. These teenage girls deserve a life better than being used as pawns or poster girls for the protective parent movement. As these girls approach high school graduation and should be concerned about getting into a good college, their mother was vacationing in Florida with her a new boyfriend. Sandra Rucki and any third party conspirators need to be prosecuted and more importantly these girls need to be found so they can finish high school.

I would really like to hear the Samantha and Gianni Rucki’s side of the story. Are they articulate young adults or naive, misguided teenagers?


Police: Network of family court critics is hiding Rucki sisters Investigators hit a wall in search for Lakeville sisters by Brandon Stahl (StarTribue November 3, 2015)

Would You Trust Kelly Rutherford?

May 28, 2015
Kelly Rutherford

Kelly Rutherford at Recent Conference of Protective Parents

This site has been monitoring the “protective parent” movement for over 20 years. Earlier this year, I looked at the agenda of this movement’s annual conference and was shocked to see Kelly Rutherford and Wendy Murphy on the speaker’s schedule. I thought to myself, Kelly must truly be getting desperate to get sole custody of her kids. Her kids are not kidnapped from her, she doesn’t have residential custody of her children. Many of us believe this was caused by her inability to demonstrate her capability to co-parent and like many “protective parents” her disrespect for the Family Law Court System.

But now Rutherford is turning to the extremists of groups. This annual conference is the single gathering of the year that attracts “protective parent” supporters. Before a mother kidnaps her child or children and goes into hiding, she more than likely came into contact with one of these activists in the room. These are the protective parent mothers and their supporters that are willing to take any measure including one that may not be legal to get custody of their children. This also may include tactics such as falsifying allegations such as a “weapons or drug dealer” or having your attorney take the blame for turning in your former spouse for immigration or tax issues.

I was also not surprised to hear that Underground Attorney Alan Rosenfeld, Genevieve Kelley’s controversial lawyer was speaking at this conference. In his speech, Alan Rosenfeld admits that he has been arrested numerous times for exercising his first amendment right. He tells those vulnerable custodial-embattled mothers: “Those of you who have lost your children, those of you who know someone who lost their children, keep in mind that no great movement has ever succeeded without people committing civil disobedience. WTF, shouldn’t this attorney be disbarred for moral turpitude with that statement alone? Is he trying to trigger some of these mothers into breaking the law like Kelly Rutherford? Does he think he has a license to tell his defendant clients that they have a right to commit perjury for the so called “movement”. This is a aspect if the protective parent movement that I’ve never understood. It’s as their beliefs, reasonable or unreasonable give them a license to break the law.

So back to Kelly Rutherford. With all the media hype as well as her current financial status, if her former spouse were allow her to fly back to the United States with her children, could she be trusted? Or has Rutherford created the perfect scenario to not return her children to an alleged Weapons and Drug Dealer (her former spouse is apparently an entrepreneur deals with trademarks and patents)? Once the kids were in her posession would she become the next Elizabeth Morgan?

Could these children who currently reside in Monaco and in nearby France in a private school  near their grandmother actually be in better hands with Kelly Rutherford?

Regardless of what happens with Kelly Rutherford’s case, the lesson learned to protective parents is before you fire that first allegation in Family Court, make sure it is sincerely in the best interests of your children. Try and remember why you decided to have a child with that person. What can really be so bad about co-parenting?