In a recent case that captured national attention, a Heron man was sentenced to three years in prison for kidnapping his own son and fleeing to Costa Rica. The man, Jacob Israel Strong, violated a parenting plan by taking his two-year-old son out of the country without permission from his ex-wife. Following a two-day trial, Strong was found guilty of international parental kidnapping by a jury. The judge also ordered him to pay $6,948 in restitution. The FBI played a crucial role in locating Strong and returning the child to his mother. This case serves as a stark reminder of the severe consequences and legal repercussions that come with violating custody agreements.
Heron man sentenced to three years in prison for kidnapping son, fleeing to Costa Rica
A Heron man has been sentenced to three years in prison for kidnapping his son and fleeing to Costa Rica. The man was convicted of international parental kidnapping after taking his son in violation of a parenting plan. He will also serve one year of supervised release and pay restitution. The incident occurred in January 2020 when the man failed to return his son to his mother as scheduled. The mother contacted the authorities, and a state arrest warrant was issued for the man. In September 2021, the FBI opened an investigation and discovered that the man and his son were living in Costa Rica. They had left the United States in October 2021 with the help of another person. The FBI received information about the man’s whereabouts in May 2022, leading to his arrest and deportation back to the United States. The child’s mother traveled to Costa Rica to take custody of her son and bring him back to the United States.
Divorce proceedings and parenting plan
The events leading up to the kidnapping can be traced back to the divorce proceedings between the man and his ex-wife. As part of the divorce settlement, the couple had established a parenting plan for their son, outlining custody and visitation rights. The parenting plan was put in place to ensure that both parents had access to their child and to maintain stability and consistency in the child’s life.
Failure to return the child
In August 2021, the man failed to return his son to his mother as scheduled, violating the terms of the parenting plan. This failure to comply with the agreed-upon custody arrangements prompted the mother to take action and seek the assistance of law enforcement.
Involvement of law enforcement
The mother immediately contacted the authorities to report the kidnapping and the man’s refusal to return their child. The Sanders County Sheriff’s Office took the report and began investigating the case. The Sanders County Attorney’s Office subsequently charged the man with felony parental interference, and a state arrest warrant was issued for his arrest.
FBI investigation and discovery of the man and his son in Costa Rica
In September 2021, due to the international nature of the case, the FBI became involved in assisting the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office in locating the man and his son. The FBI opened an investigation and worked tirelessly to gather information and leads. In January 2022, the FBI discovered that the man and his son were living in Costa Rica. It was revealed that they had left the United States in October 2021 with the assistance of another individual.
Arrest and deportation of the man back to the United States
In May 2022, the FBI received specific information about the man’s whereabouts in Costa Rica. With the help of Costa Rican officials, the FBI arrested the man and successfully deported him back to the United States. The child’s mother traveled to Costa Rica to reunite with her son and bring him back to the United States.
Reunion of the child with his mother
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of law enforcement, the child was safely reunited with his mother in the United States. The emotional reunion marked the conclusion of a difficult and challenging chapter in their lives.
Trial and conviction
Two-day trial in March
The man faced trial in March, where he was charged with international parental kidnapping. The trial lasted for two days, during which the prosecution presented evidence of the man’s actions and violation of the parenting plan.
Guilty verdict of international parental kidnapping
After careful deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict, finding the man guilty of international parental kidnapping. The conviction recognized the seriousness of his actions and the impact on the child and the mother.
Sentencing to three years in prison, followed by one year of supervised release
Upon his conviction, the man was sentenced to three years in prison. The Judge recognized the gravity of the offense and the need for punishment. In addition to the prison sentence, the man was also ordered to serve one year of supervised release, which would provide oversight and support during his reintegration into society.
In recognition of the financial impact on the child’s mother, the court also ordered the man to pay restitution. The restitution would help alleviate some of the financial burdens incurred as a result of the kidnapping and the subsequent efforts to locate and bring the child back.
Timeline of events
January 2020: Parenting plan established
The parenting plan was established as part of the divorce proceedings to ensure clear and defined custody and visitation rights for both parents. The plan outlined the responsibilities and obligations of each parent.
August 2021: Failure to return the child
The man violated the parenting plan by failing to return the child to his mother as scheduled. This failure brought attention to the situation and prompted the involvement of law enforcement.
September 2021: FBI opens investigation
Recognizing the international nature of the case, the FBI opened an investigation to locate the man and his son. The FBI utilized its resources and expertise to gather information and pursue leads.
October 2021: Departure to Costa Rica
The man and his son left the United States with the assistance of another individual, making their way to Costa Rica. The international nature of the case posed unique challenges for law enforcement.
May 2022: Specific information about the man’s whereabouts received
In May 2022, the FBI received specific information regarding the man’s location in Costa Rica. This crucial information allowed law enforcement to move forward with the arrest and deportation process.
Arrest and deportation of the man
With the assistance of Costa Rican officials, the FBI successfully located, arrested, and deported the man back to the United States. The collaboration between law enforcement agencies played a vital role in resolving the case.
Child reunited with his mother in the United States
Following the arrest and deportation of the man, the child’s mother traveled to Costa Rica to reunite with her son. The emotional reunion marked the end of a long and arduous journey, bringing closure to the case.
Prosecution and investigation
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy J. Racicot and Brian C. Lowney as prosecutors
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy J. Racicot and Brian C. Lowney led the prosecution in the case. Their relentless efforts and dedication to justice ensured that the man was held accountable for his actions.
Involvement of the FBI in the investigation
The FBI played a crucial role in the investigation, using its resources, expertise, and international connections to locate and apprehend the man. Their collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, both in the United States and abroad, was instrumental in resolving the case and reuniting the child with his mother.
Implications and consequences
Impact on the child and the mother
The kidnapping had a profound impact on both the child and his mother. The separation caused emotional distress and disrupted the child’s sense of stability and security. The mother was left in a state of anguish and uncertainty, desperately seeking the safe return of her child.
Legal consequences for the man
The man faced significant legal consequences for his actions. His conviction for international parental kidnapping resulted in a prison sentence of three years and one year of supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay restitution, recognizing the financial hardships incurred by the child’s mother.
Importance of parenting plans and custody agreements
The case emphasizes the importance of parenting plans and custody agreements in ensuring the well-being and stability of children. These legal documents provide a framework for parenting responsibilities and establish clear guidelines for both parents, minimizing the risk of disputes and conflicts.
The role of law enforcement and the FBI in child abduction cases
The successful resolution of the case highlights the crucial role that law enforcement, including the FBI, plays in child abduction cases. Their expertise, resources, and collaboration with other agencies are integral to locating missing children, apprehending perpetrators, and reuniting families.
Importance of adherence to court-ordered parenting plans
The case serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to court-ordered parenting plans. Compliance with these plans ensures the stability and well-being of the child, and failure to adhere to them can have severe legal consequences.
Prompt reporting of parental interference to law enforcement
In cases of parental interference or violation of custody agreements, it is crucial to report the incident promptly to law enforcement. Immediate action increases the chances of locating the missing child and resolving the situation in a timely manner.
Collaboration between law enforcement agencies in international cases
International child abduction cases require collaboration between law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions. The cooperation and exchange of information among agencies, both domestically and internationally, are critical to successfully resolving these cases.
Awareness of international child abduction risks and prevention
The case brings attention to the risks and challenges associated with international child abduction. Parents and caregivers should be informed about the measures they can take to prevent such incidents and be aware of the resources available to them in case of an emergency.
The case of the Heron man sentenced for kidnapping his son and fleeing to Costa Rica serves as a stark reminder of the serious nature of parental kidnapping. The conviction and sentencing highlight the legal consequences of such actions, especially when they involve international borders. The case underscores the importance of adhering to court-ordered parenting plans and custody agreements, and it emphasizes the vital role that law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, play in resolving child abduction cases. The safe reunification of the child with his mother signifies a successful resolution to a challenging and emotionally trying ordeal.
- U.S. Department of Justice press release
- FBI involvement and investigation
- Court documents from the trial
- Statements from the child’s mother and the prosecution