A Brampton mother who was reunited with her son 31 years after he was allegedly abducted says she's living proof that missing children cases can have happy endings.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis found out last week that authorities had found her son, Jermaine Mann, in the United States.
Police say Mann is facing multiple criminal charges in the US, but will be extradited to Canada to face one count of abduction. She thanked the Missing Children Society of Canada and officials in the US for bringing her son, now 33, back to her.
"I want to encourage other families with missing children and loved ones", she said, "not to ever, ever give up hope".
Lyneth's son was abducted in 1987 and finally reunited with her 31 years later.
While tearfully recounting the reunion, which gave her the chance to cuddle and cook for her son for the first time in decades, Mann-Lewis said she also thought of others whose children are still missing. Though Jermaine Mann, now 33, wasn't present, Ms. Mann-Lewis was flanked by family members and she beamed and cried in equal measure while speaking to reporters.
Allan Mann, 66, was arrested on Friday in Vernon, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford, where he had been living as Hailee Randolph DeSouza, federal officials said. He said "mommy you have my eyes" and he kissed me.
Lyneth immediately flew to the USA to see her son for the first time since he was a toddler, and said Monday the first thing she did was squeeze him to make sure he was real.
"I was sitting there wondering in my mind what was going to happen", she said.
She then added while he liked the chicken he "loved" the squash she made and she said she promised to make him more next time.
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Allan Mann, who has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, was found living under the name Hailee DeSouza in HUD-subsidised housing in CT, federal officials said.
"They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine", Toronto Police Det.
The woman was told by the authorities last week that they have found her missing son in CT.
"We are at the end of a long struggle and now it is time to move forward and that will be a new struggle".
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said that his agency had held a conference on fugitive training in 2016 and said this very case was discussed with US law enforcement officials.
He appeared briefly Friday in federal court in Hartford, where he faces charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Allan Mann Jr. was arrested in Vernon, Connecticut, on Friday and accused of abducting his then-21-month-old son during a court-ordered visitation in Toronto on June 24, 1987.
Lyneth says she cooked a meal for Jermaine at her hotel and they spent the night talking.
An arrest warrant affidavit details US marshals interviewing several of Mr. Mann's relatives and friends in August, with one tipping them off to his new identity.
The trail eventually went cold, though Jermaine's story and age-enhanced photographs were frequently circulated across missing children networks, and investigators on both sides of the border never gave up on the case. "You never take a child from its parent, no matter what", she said. "Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire".