WINNIPEG - Emily Cablek has been reunited with her two children almost four years after they were taken from her, moved around Mexico and kept hidden from public view, authorities said Monday.
Cablek saw her children Dominic and Abby Maryk, now 11 and 9 years old, on the weekend after they were found in a home in Guadalajara in Friday. Their father, Kevin Maryk, was arrested on a charge of child abduction and is in custody in Mexico.
"They absolutely, 100 per cent recognized their mother. (They) have many memories, Dominic is looking forward to a Slurpee," Christy Dzikowicz with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said Monday. The centre is a non-profit agency that works with governments and law enforcement to help protect children from abduction, exploitation and abuse.
"But much has been stolen from them. No school to learn. No doctors to take care. No friends to play with. No mother to love, nurture and protect them."
Cablek said in a statement that she is the "happiest mommy" in the world right now and would like to have uninterrupted time with her children.
"I'm asking please give my family some privacy so that we can begin to heal," she said. "We have a long road ahead and I want my children to feel completely safe through all of it. They deserve nothing less."
Police allege Maryk abducted his children during a court-ordered visit on Aug. 16, 2008, and moved around frequently to avoid detection. He lived for a while in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, before moving to Guadalajara. Police allege he kept the kids inside the home during the day — forbidding them from going to school, playing with other kids or seeing a physician.
"This is an evil individual who did not want to be found and did take steps to try and ensure that these kids were never located," Det. Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld of the Winnipeg Police Service's missing persons unit told a news conference.
It was not immediately clear whether Maryk had hired a lawyer for the extradition process. Michael Lazar, a Winnipeg lawyer who represented Maryk in family court proceedings in 2008, said Monday he has not heard from him since then.
Police suspected the kids were in Mexico and had distributed Crime-Stoppers-style videos to Mexican media outlets, one of which aired the videos earlier this month. Last Thursday, Interpol received a tip from someone who recognized the children, Winnipeg police said.
Police would not discuss the tip or confirm the involvement of Wilhelm Von Mayer, a private investigator in Baton Rouge, La., who works in Mexico and who said he received information from a neighbour about the children.
"It was a house that had four guard dogs, barbed wire. There were surveillance cameras," Von Mayer said Monday.
"These kids, they didn't attend school. They were kept under lock and key most of the day. They were taken out at 8 p.m. and brought back to the house at two or three in the morning."
Von Mayer said he has personally known the president of the Guadalajara chapter of the Find Foundation, a missing person's agency, for years, and told the witness to contact Find after the witness could not persuade local police to investigate.
Authorities are now trying to extradite Maryk, 40, and Robert Neil Groen, 41, from Mexico on child abduction charges. Police have also issued a Canada-wide warrant for Cody John McKay, 23, who is alleged to have helped in the abduction.