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Mom Finds Kidnapped Children on Facebook, After 15 Years Apart

looking for utrera on facebook
In October 1995, Faustino Utrera disappeared with his two children, who were just toddlers at the time. A few days after the kids vanished, Utrera called their mother, Prince Segala, to tell her that they were in Mexico and that she would never see her son and daughter again. The mother promptly went to the police in San Bernadino County, CA, but to no avail, and it wasn't until she consulted Facebook, nearly 15 years later, that she was finally able to track down her children.

The San Bernadino Sun reports that after searching for her daughter's name on Facebook in March, Segala eventually got in contact with her long-lost child, who was living in Florida. The two exchanged messages, and the mother sent her now 17-year-old daughter old family photos to prove her identity. When Segala told the teenager she wanted to come back into her life, the teen reportedly bristled and promptly deleted her Facebook page.

The contact, however, was enough for the District Attorney to file felony charges against Utrera, who was later arrested by Osceola County, Florida deputies. Police, meanwhile, are already hailing the discovery as a shining testament to the unique power of social networking. "It's promising to know that there's a tool that if it's used properly it's working for this woman. It's just unfortunate that it took 15 years to find them," Montclair police Sergeant Ken Pollich told the San Bernadino Sun.

Unlike previous online reunions, though, this case seems fraught with complicated family dynamics. As a San Bernadino prosecutor told NBC Bay Area, the two teenage children had spent so much time away from their biological mother, they now "regarded another woman as their mother." And when Segala initially contacted her daughter on Facebook, she reportedly replied, "'Not interested in a relationship. We just have a happy life. Leave us alone.'"

With Utrera arrested on charges of kidnapping and violating child custody orders, mother and children must now work toward forging a relationship that's laid dormant for more than a decade. As Carrie Hoeppner, of the Florida Department of Children and Families, says, "There is no relationship there. You don't have that immediate joyful reunification...These children will have to build a relationship" -- even, apparently, if they don't want one. [From: San Bernadino Sun and NBC Bay Area, via: Newser]

Tags: facebook, Faustino Utrera, FaustinoUtrera, kidnap, kidnapping, Missing Children, missing persons, MissingChildren, MissingPersons, social networking, SocialNetworking, top, web