Police in the Vancouver Island municipality of Saanich are investigating an alleged parental abduction of a two-year-old girl in a complicated case spanning Canada and the UK.
They believe 31-year-old Lauren Ann Etchells may have abducted her young daughter, Kaydance Paige Etchells.
In an emotional statement Monday morning, Kaydance’s other mother, Tasha Brown, said she has waited for nearly five months in “painful silence and misery” to publicly ask for help in locating Kaydance.
“Rather than celebrating her second birthday together, I am instead in a police room sending a plea to the world to ask for help in finding you,” Brown said. “Kaydance, every day I wonder where you are and if you are alright.”
“Abduction is just a word to anyone who has not experienced it,” said Brown, fighting back tears. “Even if you are a parent, you can’t ever begin to know the suffering of not knowing where you child is.”
The girl’s two mothers, Etchells and Brown, have been in a relationship since 2009 and got married in British Columbia in 2011.
Brown is a Canadian citizen, whereas Etchells is a dual Canadian and British citizen.
At the end of 2013, they decided to have a child and went through a donor process. It was decided that Etchells would carry the baby.
WATCH: At a press conference Monday in Saanich, Tasha Brown asks for the public’s help with any information leading to return of her 2-year-old daughter Kaydance.
Timeline of the case
Kaydance was born Sept. 26, 2014 in Alberta. Monday is her second birthday.
In November 2014, an Alberta birth certificate was issued for Kaydance showing both Etchells and Brown as parents. In January 2015, Kaydance was issued a UK passport because Etchells is a dual citizen.
On July 31, 2015, Brown and Etchells were separated. Kaydance was living with Etchells full time, but Brown had visitation rights that were increased incrementally with a goal of joint custody.
In August 2015, a court order was signed, stating that Etchells had to surrender Kaydance’s UK passport and will not apply for a Canadian passport for her.
Complicating matters, police said in 2015, Etchells obtained a secondary birth certificate for Kaydance, showing her as the only parent.
On March 6, 2016 Etchells gave birth to another child, Marcus, whose father is 30-year-old Marco Vandermerwe.
On April 20, 2016, a new court order was issued giving Brown more access to Kaydance, leading up to overnight stays.
The next day, on April 21, police allege Etchells lied to Passport Canada and completed a passport application for Kaydance.
On May 8, Etchells and Vandermerwe, along with Kaydance and Marcus, boarded a flight from Vancouver to Gatwick, UK.
On May 14, Brown reported to Saanich police that Etchells may have abducted their daughter.
Major Crimes Unit now involved
Acting Sgt. Jereme W. Leslie with the Saanich Police Department said Monday the Major Crimes Unit is now working on the case.
“Our detectives were able to obtain a significant amount of evidence and on May 19 forwarded a report to the BC Criminal Justice Branch requesting a warrant for Etchells’ arrest,” Leslie said.
On May 22, Saanich police received information that Etchells, Kaydance and Marcus travelled from England to France, using their British passports.
Leslie said they are working with Interpol, the RCMP National Centre for Missing Children, Canadian Centre for Child Protection and BC Criminal Justice Branch.
On June 8, a Canada-wide warrant was issued for Etchells for one count of abduction by a parent and two counts of disobeying a court order. A maximum penalty for each of those counts is 10 years in prison.
“At this time, it’s unknown where Etchells and Kaydance are living, but it’s believed that they are somewhere in Europe,” Leslie said.
Leslie said they don’t have any information to suggest the child is being abused or is in an unsafe environment, but they want to bring her back safely.
Kaydance is described as 0.75 metres tall. She has blond hair and blue eyes.
Brown said Monday Kaydance should be in Canada celebrating her life, instead of having her life hidden away somewhere else in the world.
“Even though Kaydance is only two, this will, without a doubt, be something that will impact her future,” she said.
Leslie said officials are asking anyone with information, including family, friends, neighbours or anyone who may have been on WestJet flight 0022 on May 8, to come forward.
A Facebook page called “Where in the world is Kaydance?” has also been set up to help with the search for the missing girl.