Tired but still engaging after an all-night journey from Maine, a 9-year-old boy said in Orange County on Saturday that he is happy to be back in California.
Four years after he allegedly was abducted by his baby sitter, Kristopher Michael Siegel and his mother, Janis Siegel, 28, of Riverside, were reunited in Bangor, Me., late Friday night. They then flew in a private jet to Orange County, arriving about 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
The baby sitter, Leslie Helen Moore, 38, of Orland, Me., was arraigned Friday in connection with the alleged abduction, Bangor Police Detective Roy McKinney said. But her lawyer, Marshall Stern, in a telephone interview from Maine Saturday, said Siegel voluntarily placed Kristopher in Moore's charge seven years ago.
The reunion followed a four-week investigation that began when Kristopher told another boy that he was from California but was sad that he could never return home. An adult overheard the conversation, according to the Adam Walsh Child Resource Center in Orange, and authorities were able to identify Kristopher by his picture in a directory of missing and abducted children compiled by Child Find Inc.
Moore was being held at Maine's Penobscot County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail and the FBI said she will be extradited to Oregon for "custodial interference and contempt of court."
Details of how the child was separated from his mother--and how the reunion took place--remained far from clear Saturday night, however.
The story, as pieced together from official and unofficial sources, amounts to a convoluted tale involving allegations of abductions and a bizarre custody battle between a mother and her child's baby sitter.
The FBI issued a statement late Saturday saying that before 1979, Kristopher's mother, whom the FBI identified as Janis Belanger, lived in a commune with Moore in Clackamas, Ore. In 1979, said Theodore M. Gardner, special agent in charge of the FBI's Portland, Ore., office, Belanger gave "temporary custody" of her son to Moore.
Moore subsequently left the commune, taking Kristopher with her, and lived in various locations across the nation until settling in Bangor in 1984, where she used the name "Patricia Smith," Gardner said.
Kristopher was allegedly abducted Aug. 17, 1982, from La Grande, Ore., where his divorced mother, originally from Riverside, was living at the time, according to Susan Davidson, executive director of the Walsh center in Orange, which attempts to find missing children and aid abused youths.
When Kristopher was two years old, Moore took off with the boy while Siegel--then living in Oregon and working as a truck driver--was on a 10-day trip, said Pamela Harris-Oedekerk, victim services director at the Adam Walsh office.
Moore was armed with a "permission slip," signed by Siegel, intended to be used in case Kristopher needed emergency medical care while in Moore's care, the caseworker said.
In Maine, Kristopher attended St. John's Elementary School for two years in Bangor under the name "Kristopher Smith." During that time, Moore lived at the St. Francis Community, or H.O.M.E. Inc., as "Patricia Smith."
According to the Associated Press, H.O.M.E. is a nonprofit, residential community offering such services as day care, a sawmill to cut lumber for the poor and a shelter for battered women.
Kristopher said he has a few fleeting earlier memories of his mother. Of the reunion Friday night in Bangor, he said: "It was fun, happy."
He also said he wants his mother to change her license plate frame.
It now reads, "My son is missing."
He said he wants it to say, "My son is back."
Times staff writer Mark Landsbaum contributed to this story.