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  • Writer's pictureJames Chau

New York Child Custody Dispute Results in Kidnapping

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

I recently read a startling article about a child who went missing during a 2001 custody dispute. Under a shared custody agreement, the little girls’ father, Mike Kibalo, handed his 2-year-old daughter, Samantha, to an officer during a scheduled visitation exchange New York. Kibalo says it was February 4, 2001, the last time he saw Samantha. He and his estranged wife, Ann Yermak, were scheduled to appear the next day in court for a divorce hearing, but she never showed.

A court-appointed psychiatrist had previously testified at a custody hearing that the child’s future visits with her mother should be supervised. And according to the psychiatrist, the mother had been found to show symptoms of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a condition where a person attributes sickness to someone else, often a child they care for even though the child is not sick. A person with Munchausen syndrome often is motivated by the attention they receive from others for taking care of a child presumed to be sick.

Kibalo says the court planned to award him custody after an investigation by child services ruled the abuse claims against him were unfounded, but Samantha and her mother simply disappeared. It is not unheard of for a court to award custody to the other parent when a parent attempts to file false allegations of child abuse during a custody dispute.

The SUV Yermak had been driving was found two weeks after the disappearance, abandoned in a Brooklyn parking garage. Samantha’s hair and fingerprints were found in the vehicle, but there was nothing to indicate where they might have gone. Investigators learned that in the weeks before she disappeared, Yermak had been loading up on prepaid calling cards and stopped using her cell phone and credit cards. The detective currently assigned to the case says it would be difficult for Yermak to remain on the run with Samantha without help. Two warrants have been issued for Ann Yermak’s arrest. A federal warrant is outstanding on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and a warrant issued by the Ramapo Justice Court alleges custodial interference in the first degree.

It is understandable that child custody can get heated and emotional. However, there is never an excuse for a child kidnapping. The parent in this case, the mother is a sick individual who needs psychiatric help. She will suffer criminal and civil penalties from her kidnapping. If you have a child custody dispute please feel free to contact my Santa Clara County Child Custody Law offices. Proudly serving the following cities, Milpitas, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Mountain View, and Santa Clara.

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