National/World

Extradition kept Mont. mom from kids in Bahamas

Thursday, March 29, 2012
Action News

Investigators knew early on that three Montana children reported missing in August had been living with their father and stepmother on a sailboat in the Bahamas, but could do nothing because of an arduous extradition process, police in Montana said.

A break came with an anonymous tip that the children's stepmother, Angela Bryant, had flown to Hawaii. After she was arrested, she provided authorities with enough information to locate the children and her husband, James Bryant.

She told police that Bryant and the children were in south Florida after sailing there two weeks ago. Border crews searched the waters for days before spotting the 40-foot boat on Tuesday.

The boat was about 30 miles off the Florida coast, attempting to return to Bahamian waters. "So they were making a run for it," Belgrade police Detective Dustin Lensing, the lead investigator in the case, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/Hi3abP ).

Lensing contacted the Coast Guard, which deployed a vessel to chase down the boat, which had been renamed "to avoid detection," Lensing said.

The children - 15-year-old Megan Bryant, 13-year-old Maxwell Bryant and 12-year-old Sebastian Bryant - were on board. Authorities said they had no reason to believe the children were in any immediate danger.

Their father was arrested on a felony warrant for not returning the children to their mother in Belgrade after a Florida vacation last August. The children were reunited Wednesday with their mother and legal guardian, Kelly Bryant, in Broward County, Fla., after being held for a day in an emergency shelter.

"She's very pleased," Lensing told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (http://sunsent.nl/H0X14g ). "She has been missing her kids. She has missed birthdays and holidays with them."

Lensing said they knew by tracing emails sent from a wireless router that the children had been living with James and Angela Bryant on their boat in the Bahamas. But they couldn't be arrested outside of the U.S., and they faced delays in trying to arrange extradition.

"We just haven't been able to touch them," Lensing said.

Angela Bryant has been arrested by Hawaii County Police and charged with parenting interference. James Bryant was ordered held on $100,000 bond on the charge of interfering with parenting. He and his wife were expected to be extradited to Montana as early as Thursday, officials said.

If convicted, each would face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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montana, bahamas, missing children, national/world
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