7,000 miles and three and a half years later, a missing Mississippi teen is back with his father.
The mother, 38-year-old Jennifer Houff, stands accused of abducting the child at age twelve. Federal authorities made the arrest after tracking her movements in the African nation of Egypt.
The official charge Houff faces is parental kidnapping. She allegedly took her son, now-16-year-old Blake Cleveland, out of the country without having proper custody. She appeared in Federal Court in Jackson on Monday afternoon.
Blake’s father, William Danny Cleveland, had this to to say about the operation lead by the FBI: “Our entire family is just absolutely relieved his is back in the United States. It’s been a long hard ordeal that no family should have to suffer.”
John Colette, Houff’s attorney, says the charge and his clients intentions need to be explored.
“When you look at the charging documents, when she left the country she had full custody of her son. That was changed later when she failed to appear at a hearing,” Colette said.
“So that’s where the gray area comes. I mean, did she not bring him back when she was supposed to? Did she intentionally stay? I mean, those are issues that we’ll have to look at at some length. But when she left the country she had full custody of her son,” Colette said.
Houff left the courthouse on a ten thousand dollar bond. She is also scheduled to be fitted with a GPS monitoring system on Wednesday.
Jennifer Houff’s new husband – Brandon Houff – was also being investigated by authorities in this case. No word on if he’s also been arrested.