Sophie Long missing Texas girl center of bitter child custody case between her parents found in foreign country. Michael Long, child’s father who kidnapped her now in custody.
A Texas 10-year-old who was reported missing in July has been found in a foreign country and is set to return home to her family in the United States, according to law enforcement authorities.
The Collin County Sheriff’s Office in a press release said Sophie Long was in protective custody after previously reported missing and feared kidnaped by her non custodial father, Michael Long, who is now in police custody.
Michael is in custody on a felony warrant for interference with child custody. He is set to be extradited back to Collin County according to the Dallas Morning News.
US investigators were able to track down the missing father and daughter following a bitter custody dispute in which the child’s father had refused to hand over his daughter to her maternal aunt.
Deputies declined to say which country the eleven year old girl was in, with authorities previously saying she and her dad could’ve been en route to Argentina or Mexico.
Ex wife sought to have child’s dad jailed and put on 10 years probation
‘Many months of determined work by my deputies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Marshals paid off this morning,’ Collin County Sheriff Jim Skinner said in a statement Saturday. ‘We are so happy Sophie is safe.’
Sophie was last seen on July 12 in Seguin, northeast of San Antonio, before being found.
Michael, 43, was due to show up at a court in McKinney, Texas, in August for a hearing over a motion that could send him to jail for almost three years.
The father previously told the dailymail before the issuing of a warrant for his arrest earlier this summer, that the only way he would return to court and bring his daughter home was if was allowed to put his case before a jury.
Ex-wife Kelly Long opposed the jury trial in a motion and asked for Long to be summarily jailed for 18 months plus an extra year on one count of hiding Sophie and another for failing to hand her over.
Kelly, 36, is also asking for Long to be placed on probation for 10 years and for him to be held on a $20,000 bond, as well as for him to cover her legal costs.
Michael was ordered in July to pay $20,000 to cover the cost of reunification therapy for Sophie and her mother, as well as therapy for her two brothers, his sons.
‘I’d do anything for Sophie…’
‘I’d absolutely go to jail to protect Sophie. I’d do anything for her. She’s a 10-year-old child,’ Michael previously told the dailymail.
Sophie’s story shot to prominence in August 2020 after a video showing her screaming and crying during a custody handover went viral.
Sophie desperately clung to the seats of her father Michael’s car and accused her mom’s fiancée, who the children call Mr. Jake, of sexual abuse, prompting a #StandWithSophie campaign on social media.
The video was partly spread by QAnon believers who thought she was in danger, according to the Dallas Morning News, with police at that time dismissing the ‘patently false’ information that was being shared about her and other children.
According to her father, Sophie claimed she was sexually abused by her mother’s fiancée Jacob Bellington.
Following her claims, the Frisco Police Department in Texas opened an investigation, with Michael being awarded temporary custody of Sophie and her two brothers.
Dad makes drastic decision
The father told the dailymail that the case took a darker turn following a hearing in December when the court-appointed guardian-ad-litem and amicus attorney argued that both boys should be returned to their mother after they began exhibiting behavioral problems.
Long claimed both having been exposed to Bellington along with no arrangements for visitation with him being put in place since the original order expired in April.
Bellington denied the allegations against him, accusing Long of ‘jealousy’ and ‘ripping’ his family apart.
Attorneys for Kelly Long also claimed last year that the ‘unfounded’ claims were part of Michael’s ‘personal vendetta against his ex-wife.’
Frisco PD would later release a statement in late August confirming Sophie was ‘safe and staying at a safe location.
Sophie was ordered to be sent to live with her maternal aunt following a hearing in May during which Long said he was not allowed to testify, while his estranged wife Kourtney Chalmers – who Long believes is working with ex-wife Kelly – was called to the stand.
When the order for her removal was finally handed down in July, Long says he felt ‘numb’ but quickly decided he needed to get out of town to ‘buy time’.
Until recently, Michael Long had been ‘laying low’ with Sophie since July 7 after he was told to hand her to her aunt in North Carolina and banned from speaking to his daughter for 90 days.
He brought Sophie to a meeting with DailyMail.com which took place at a neutral location in August.
The 10-year-old appeared happy and at ease with her father the tabloid said, while telling reporters about the A grades she had received at school and her favorite classes, including English and art.