A 49-year-old man has been charged with child abduction after six children reported missing in Calgary earlier this week were found by police east of Toronto Wednesday.
A woman reported to Calgary police Monday that her six children and common law partner went missing from their home while she was away and she believed he was in the process of moving the entire family to Ontario.
“She was away from the home for a period of time and she had given consent to care for the children here in the Calgary area,” Sgt. Darren Smith of the Calgary Police Service’s Domestic Conflict Unit said at a press conference Thursday.
“He has family in Ontario, so I can only gauge that that’s why he was doing that because that’s where his support network is.”
Smith said the suspect had “no legal authority whatsoever over the children” and merely had “consent to take care of them at the time.”
Investigators in Calgary then “immediately alerted” police across Ontario after concluding the man and children were in the province.
On Tuesday, Calgary police applied for a Canada-wide arrest warrant that gave police in Ontario the ability to charge the suspect as soon as he was located.
“We knew what area he was in and we also knew that he had been caring for these children for a significant period of time and was in their life,” Smith said.
“I can’t elaborate on why he took them. We haven’t interviewed him as of yet to understand the true reasoning of why he brought them across country.”
On Wednesday, Durham Regional Police said an officer located a green SUV with an Alberta licence plate in a parking lot in Bowmanville, Ont., around 4:50 p.m. near Waverly Road and Baseline Road.
Police said the children were found inside the SUV in “good condition” and ranged from 18 months to 11 years of age. They are currently under the care of the Durham Children’s Aid Society.
The man was arrested without incident and charged with six counts of child abduction. He appeared in court Thursday and police said arrangements are being made to have him returned to Calgary in the next week.
The Calgary Police Service’s Domestic Conflict Unit is also helping to co-ordinate the children’s return to Alberta “as soon as possible” with the help of the Missing Children Society of Canada and WestJet.
Police said an AMBER Alert was not issued in this case because all the evidence indicated that the children were not in “immediate danger.”
“In each case we have to weigh whether or not notifying the public is actually in the best interest of the investigation. In this case, we actually were aware very early on that he was in Ontario and that the children were safe,” Smith said.
“By actually putting out that media request, that actually may cause him to leave the jurisdiction where we believed he was. We also knew what type of vehicle he was driving, we had information that allowed us to actually look for that individual.”
They re-iterated that four criteria must be met before an AMBER Alert can be issued and immediate danger is one of them.
“In this case, because we were sure that there was no imminent risk at this point to the children, we wanted to take normal strategies, or traditional investigative strategies, to try and locate the kids.”
The man’s name has not been released to protect the identity of the children. Police said they have no history of domestic incidents with the family.
“Obviously, you could tell this could be a very stressful incident for six children,” Smith said.
“They actually were able to get the children with social services and off before they actually took the offender into custody and placed handcuffs on him to try to reduce the stress to the kids.”