EIGHT American missionaries charged with child kidnapping in Haiti were back in the US yesterday and looking forward to homecomings, even as two others remained in a Haitian jail in an ordeal sparked by the group’s attempt to take 33 children out of the earthquake-stricken country.
The missionaries arrived on a US Air Force C-130 just after midnight at Miami International Airport, about 12 hours after a Haitian judge approved their release.
Silas Thompson, 19, of Twin Falls, Idaho, said it was “great” to be back on US soil. Asked to name the first thing he’ll do when he gets home, Thompson replied: “Hug my mom.”
Earlier, elated relatives expressed relief, including Sean Lankford of Meridian, Idaho, whose wife and daughter were among the eight released. When asked how he felt, he said: “Damn good.”
The group’s swift departure from Haiti began when Judge Bernard Saint-Vil said eight of the 10 missionaries were free to leave without bail because parents of the children had testified they voluntarily gave their children to the missionaries believing the Americans would give them a better life.
“The parents gave their kids away voluntarily,” Saint-Vil said in explaining his decision.
He said, however, that he still wanted to question the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, and her former nanny, Charisa Coulter, because they had visited Haiti prior to the quake to inquire about obtaining orphans.
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