Man waits to reunite with daughter found 14 years after being abducted as a 7-year-old by her mother
A woman who vanished 14 years ago with her 7-year-old daughter was arrested Tuesday in Monrovia and her daughter was located unharmed, authorities said Friday.
Wendy Hill, 52, was spotted at a local Claim Jumper restaurant and arrested on suspicion of abducting her own daughter.
Jessica Click-Hill, now 22, was contacted by authorities after the arrest. She is believed to be living out of state.
“I’m just so excited that Jessica is found and well and that, physically, she’s fine,” said the girl’s father, Dean Click. “She’s got family who haven’t gotten to be with her, to spend Christmas or Thanksgiving together, so we’re looking forward to reconnecting with each other.”
Click said that since his daughter is an adult, authorities will not release her contact information. "At this point, she will have to come to me,” he said.
The father said he and his ex-wife were in a custody dispute when Hill cleaned out her Redlands apartment in the fall of 1995 and left with the girl.
Click said he lived in Walnut Creek in Northern California at the time and for years had not been able to visit his daughter without a mediator present. He said at the time he’d been accused of molesting his daughter, a claim he denied.
He said he ultimately was exonerated and that his rights were restored for full, unsupervised visits. On his first visit, he said he celebrated by bringing his parents along and taking Jessica out to lunch.
On his second visit, he said he arrived at the apartment complex and found that his ex-wife and daughter had left.
Authorities said Hill changed her name to Gail Jackson and moved from state to state. She was sighted outside Tampa, Fla., and at one point lived in Boston, authorities said.
A warrant was issued for her arrest in 1996 out of Contra Costa County, and the FBI issued its own warrant a year later.
Click said he kept in touch with authorities, but leads were few and far between. Then a tip came in several months ago from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the mother’s alias and her location, said Sgt. Tom Cashion of the Walnut Creek Police Department .
Hill flew to Los Angeles, apparently for a business meeting, and was picked up Tuesday at the Monrovia restaurant, Cashion said.
She has since been taken to Northern California, where she was being held on $250,000 bail.
Click said he was asked by prosecutors if he wanted to press charges.
“I said ‘yes’ because she’s been a thief and she’s taken away those years that I did not get to spend with my daughter,” Click said.
-- Amina Khan