32 Years After They Went Missing, Sisters Found—and Mom Arrested

Elaine Yates is charged with kidnapping
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2017 5:58 PM CST
Updated Jan 18, 2017 1:33 AM CST
Elaine Yates   (Harris County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Two sisters have been found, 32 years after they were reported missing. Police say their mother, Elaine Yates, took Kimberly and Kelly Yates from Rhode Island in 1985 amid a custody dispute when they were 3 years old and 10 months old, respectively. Acting on an anonymous tip, police located the trio in the Houston area. Elaine Yates was arrested Monday and is facing child-snatching charges, WCVB reports. The girls' father, Russell Yates, says he's not interested in seeing her prosecuted because "that ain't gonna help her, me, or anybody else at this point," but says he hopes to see his daughters soon.

Heavy and the Providence Journal have background on the complicated case: Three weeks prior to her disappearance, Elaine Yates reportedly found her husband with another woman on the family boat. He later acknowledged hitting Elaine during a fight about the incident, though he said she attacked him first. Russell Yates was awarded custody when Elaine failed to appear at the custody hearing held months after her disappearance with the children. The year after their disappearance, Russell Yates sued Elaine's mother, believing she knew where they were; the woman ultimately did not give up any information and spent eight days in jail as a result. Russell and Elaine Yates were formally divorced in 1996. The Journal recently re-posted an extensive 1988 article on the case. (A man abandoned as a newborn found his family after 39 years.)

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