Patterico's Pontifications

6/6/2010

California Mother Finds Missing Children With Facebook

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 3:01 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

A California mother found her two missing children using Facebook. The father reportedly called the mother days after abducting their children to tell her they were in Mexico and she would never see them again. Fifteen years later, the mother, Prince Segala, tracked her daughter’s name on Facebook and started a conversation.

There really must be a fine line between love and hate.

— DRJ

30 Responses to “California Mother Finds Missing Children With Facebook”

  1. There often is no line, sadly. By definition, you can only be betrayed by someone whom you trusted. And catastrophic events that generate intense, disabling pain and hurt don’t necessarily erase or overwrite all of the love that may have preceded them.

    That’s why I choose not to practice in the family courts or, to an extent, the criminal courts. Stories as peculiar and sad as this one play out there every day, and getting deeply involved in them on behalf of others can be emotionally exhausting even if you supposedly can close the file at the end of the day.

    Beldar (615d9e)

  2. There really must be a fine line between love and hate.

    Oh, that’s definitely an understatement.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. Good for her. I can see why she turned him in even if it might mean she never gains a close relationship with her stolen children, and it means their life as they know it now is destroyed. If she didn’t, she’d never have any kind of relationship with them anyway — and this way he pays for his crime, and the kids are removed from his toxic clutches. The years lost will never be returned to them, but at least this way there is a chance for a future.

    starboardhelm (94c0da)

  4. I usually think that indifference is the opposite of either love or hate. A math prof I know claims that love and hate are the two sides of a Möbius strip.

    htom (412a17)

  5. It doesn’t seem that her actions were in ANY way in the interests of the children. Maybe 12 years ago they would have been, but now it’s just about revenge, and whatever cost. This is going to get really ugly, and I can’t see any court giving these children into the birth mother’s custody. She’ll be lucky to get visitation, and that will end abruptly when they turn 18.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  6. it may not have been done “in the interests” of the children, but he committed a crime, it was an ongoing crime even though the start of the crime was 15 years earlier, and now he will pay the price.

    that said it is possible he was a good guy and she is an absolute nut and he was trying to save them from her.

    the opposite could be true he was a vindictive scumbag and he wanted to hurt her,

    we may never know

    rumcrook¾ (4a9bee)

  7. There are similarities between this story and the Vermont court case where the lesbian moms contested custody and one fled with the child. I guess both fleeing parents felt they were putting their children’s interests first.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  8. Kevin, should the father get away with the crime? The lies he told his kids to justify his actions? Maybe it IS to late for these kids, as you say. What about the next set of parental kidnapped kids? Should there be a statute of limitations? This in a sense, is like the Polanski case. His prosecution helps nobody, even the victim says let it drop. In both cases, wrong!

    Jim (e0a02e)

  9. The case is just weird. I’d like to know more than I need to know about just what the heck went on.

    Crime committed, there it is. Sucks if he’s the good guy. Sucks if she’s the good guy. But then, isn’t that why it’s criminal – there are repercussions and the law is in place to discourage this kind of action for precisely these reasons.

    If he was the good guy, then he took the risk that eventually he would be made to account for his actions.

    Vivian Louise (643333)

  10. Kevin, are you a parent? Just because the children are near adulthood does not mean she shouldn’t have custody and attempt to at least allow her children to know she’s alive, that she’s not a monster, and that their father deprived them of their mother’s love.

    bob (ad3bc5)

  11. DRJ–

    I have to weigh the criminal act 15 years ago with the harm done today. To me, justice delayed is not only denied, but in this case a travesty.

    Segala apparently did not notify authorities (and probably did not intend to) until the daughter declined to participate in her reunion fantasy. It is not as if the children had any issue with their father or their stepmother — Segala’s entire reason for contacting the authorities was that she was spurned. Again.

    So she called the cops to punish everyone for her pain. Returning the children to her custody would be a travesty, since she is clearly not rational, does not care what they think or feel, and is only acting out her selfish desires. The state is not compelled to assist her fantasy — the crime 15 years ago cannot be undone; and the almost-adult children want nothing to do with her.

    So, Dad will go to prison for a few years; the children will be unnecessarily scarred and have a lesser future than might otherwise have been; and the stepmother (one hopes) will have the task of raising them alone for the next few years and picking up the pieces of their family life.

    As for Mom… she has only made matters worse. By trying to force the issue, she has ended all possibility of reunion. More’s the pity.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  12. Kev, you might want to put the shovel down…

    Gazzer (8511ff)

  13. Bob,

    1) the kids had a mother’s love (and a father’s), until now. Just not the birth mother’s.

    2) why should she have custody? Why not the stepmother, who is the one they have called Mom all their lives? Near as I can tell she’s not culpable.

    3) The kids are not her love-toys. Just because her big heart holds all that motherly love for them (never mind the ruining their lives, part) does not mean that the state needs to cosign her b*llsh*t.

    4) The kids didn’t want to be reunited. If they had she might never have called the cops. Why add to their trauma?

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  14. That’s why I choose not to practice in the family courts or, to an extent, the criminal courts.

    I only do post-decree child support and custody pro bono because I don’t want to take such money home. It’s my out, I guess.

    nk (db4a41)

  15. Whatever is wrong with the comment system is NOT fixed. Seems that there’s a time mark past which cookies prevent further comments from being seen. I currently posted #12 but cannot read it. I had posted #5 and could read it right then, but not when I can back later. Had to delete cookies again. Firefox Win7, but it will also happen with MSIE.

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  16. Likely much animosity between the birth mother and father. I fully agree that love and hate are close kinsmen, at the opposite pole is indifference.

    In a fit of macho, father abducts the children and tells their mother she won’t ever see them again. Probably the longest, sharpest weapon he could wield against her from a distance. The father is a criminal, and the crime he committed does not have a time limit. It was against both the mother and their children.

    It is normal that self centered teenage girls do not want their present lives upset. Unfortunately for her and her brother, they have been caught up in an elaborate, destructive sham. They are now paying for what their father did years ago.

    The “step mother” has no standing under the law. The laws we have value an orderly society where parental rights and obligations are respected. Children benefit from that sort of order.

    Gabby (7f03bd)

  17. Utrera called Segala a few days after he vanished to tell her that he and their children were in Mexico and…

    Interesting.

    Is the guy an illegal immigrant as well?

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (78c9e7)

  18. Segala apparently did not notify authorities (and probably did not intend to) until the daughter declined to participate in her reunion fantasy. It is not as if the children had any issue with their father or their stepmother — Segala’s entire reason for contacting the authorities was that she was spurned. Again.

    So she called the cops to punish everyone for her pain.– Comment by Kevin Murphy

    Your interpretation is plausiable, but I don’t think necessarily so.

    First, everything the daughter did was potentially under the supervision of her father and potentially coerced. Had the father known and had he a bit of smarts, I think he should have done everything in his power to facilitate the birth mother having opportunity to interact with her children.

    Second, once the mom contacted her daughter certain things were set in motion. The children have the reality thrust into their lives that perhaps they were betrayed by their father and that they have a mother who misses them and has been searching for them ever since they were taken from her.

    I don’t think you can fault the mom for wanting to contact her children. I think by not going to the authorities first she understood how much more difficult things would be for the girls for it to go that way. She did not claim her right to have the father locked up immediately, but tried to make contect in a less threatening and disruptive manner.

    Now, my interpretation is just that also, and your take may be closer to the truth than mine. But at the moment, this situation where it seems that everyone is losing at the moment can’t be pegged opn the mom being the “bad guy”.

    Living by deception can catch up with you unexpectedly.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  19. I don’t think it’s unusual the children would side with their father. He’s the only parent they know.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  20. #16 Gabby:

    The “step mother” has no standing under the law. The laws we have value an orderly society where parental rights and obligations are respected. Children benefit from that sort of order.

    There are exceptions to that as well.

    As Beldar first said,

    Stories as peculiar and sad as this one play out there every day

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  21. Question: Does family law exist for the benefit of the abandoned parent, or for the benefit of the children?

    If the latter, how do the children benefit from being dragged out of the only home they’ve known so that they can live (for at most 2 years!) in the home of their birth mother? (Everything else being equal.)

    Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

  22. Kevin, everything else being equal, which I don’t think is the case, of course it would be better to leave the kids with the mythical equal father.

    But in this case, the father committed a horrible crime on a family member. The children may even have stunted views of right and wrong because of their misfortune in being raised by him. And family law fits in a context with criminal law. The father is a criminal and has to face justice, whether or not that’s in the kid’s best interest or not.

    I think this mother is the victim of a terrible thing. I’m not surprised the children are resisting her… they may very well have a hard time dealing with family problems because of their upbringing. Even a well adjusted person would be challenged to live with this.

    But this is as good a time as any to get the wheels of justice turning on this father.

    I don’t really see the woman as an abandoned parent. She’s an abandoned wife who had her parenthood stolen. I’d rather be raped or murdered 100 times.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. Kevin Murphy:

    Everything else is not equal.

    Utreras is a criminal and a liar. Leaving children in his custody endangers them.

    The argument that “this is the only home the children have ever known” would apply just as much if they had been kidnapped by total strangers.

    Incidentally, WTH is a “$2 million arrest warrant”? When did warrants start having $ amounts on them?

    Rich Rostrom (a80b26)

  24. #21 Kevin Murphy:

    Question: Does family law exist for the benefit of the abandoned parent, or for the benefit of the children?

    I don’t think family law exists for the benefit of either.

    As people, we just do the best we can to sort out impossible situations, and I think the law reflects that.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  25. Family law exists for all who may be subject to wrongful treatment within a family.

    The law can only do what is just, and to not do what is just is to be unjust. People can grant mercy, which may be more important than justice, but the two are different. One is made of rules which are impartial, the other is more a force of kindness and love, and cannot be dictated.

    The perspective of utilitarian ethics would try to decide what should be done that will bring about the most “happiness”. One may think “it will be better for the children” to just leave well enough alone. Maybe it would be, but maybe it won’t. Making that calculation is not as easy as an 800 level math course. Should the children have never learned that they were kidnapped by their father? Do we have any idea what their relationship with their father has been like? For all we know he could have routinely molested each of them. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”.

    The deontologist realizes that it is difficult for a mere human to know the future and the consequences of different choices, so makes decisions based on principles which are firm.

    Kevin, you put it as an issue of what is best for the children vs. the mother. In one way it’s not about either. It is about just consequences for someone who committed a serious crime. When the mother did not immediately have the father thrown in jail, she may have been trying to work things through with the least disruption as possible.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  26. Kevin, in this matter, you are a warped, callous idiot. That mother HAS rights to her children. Just because you want to say “tough luck” and make her walk away doesn’t make it right, nor make you right.

    First, the teenagers have been lied to for 15 years by their father. Do you understand the concept of brainwashing????

    Second, Teenagers are not the most discerning people on Earth. That is why they are minors and under the jurisdiction of their parents.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  27. thing

    enoch_root (9548cd)

  28. test thing

    enoch_root (9548cd)

  29. wtf comment

    enoch_root (9548cd)

  30. The two teens involved in this are practically adults. They are certainly not toddlers. They should have the final say where they live, not this woman they don’t even know.

    Silver Fang (928ddf)


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