'Never give up': Mother reunited with son allegedly abducted in 1987
Published Monday, October 29, 2018 6:41AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 29, 2018 2:38PM EDT
A Toronto-area woman took a trip to the U.S. over the weekend to meet the son allegedly stolen from her more than three decades ago.
“I grabbed him and I squeezed his head. I wanted to feel if he [was] real. I touched him and said ‘Oh my god, my baby,’” Lyneth Mann-Lewis said Monday at a press conference.
“He said ‘Oh, Mommy, you have my eyes.’ He hugged me and he kissed me, and we held there for a long time.”
Mann-Lewis is the mother of Jermaine Mann, who police say was abducted by his father in 1987. American authorities say Allan Mann Jr. and his son were living in Vernon, Conn., with the younger Mann unaware of how he had come to be in the country.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Allan Mann Jr. was living under the assumed name of Hailee Randolph DeSouza with a fake Texas birth certificate. Once officials in Texas confirmed that the birth certificate could not be real, investigators pieced together Mann’s true identity.
Jermaine Mann was unknowingly going by a fake name, which authorities are not divulging out of respect for his desire for privacy.
Officials allege the elder Mann had abducted his son during a court-ordered visit in Toronto in 1987, and then fled across the border. Jermaine Mann was less than two years old at the time.
Allan Mann Jr. led a “life of lies” while illegally in the U.S., Toronto police Det.-Sgt. Wayne Banks said Monday, including telling his son a false story about Mann-Lewis.
“He was under the impression that his mother had died shortly after [his] birth,” Banks said.
Mann-Lewis said she was notified Oct. 25 that her son had been found.
“The words ‘Your son is alive; we’ve found him’ – that is breathtaking,” she said.
Two days later, Mann-Lewis found herself boarding a flight that would take her to see her now 33-year-old son for the first time since he was a toddler.
Their visit was full of little discoveries, from Mann seeing the similarity in his and his mother’s eyes to Mann-Lewis realizing Mann listens to the same music as her other son.
Wanting to cook for her son, Mann-Lewis went to a supermarket and purchased enough chicken and vegetables for a feast – only to learn that her son prefers not to eat meat.
“He said ‘You know what Mommy, cook the chicken, I’m going to eat the chicken,’” she said.
“He ate every living piece off that plate.”
Mann-Lewis said she hoped to make many repeat visits to Connecticut to spend more time with her son.
Allan Mann Jr. remains in custody following his arrest. He is facing charges of making false statements in the U.S. Once those charges are resolved, Canadian authorities will attempt to extradite him so he can answer to one count of abduction in this country.
None of the allegations against Mann Jr. have been proven in court.
Asked if there was anything she would like to say to him, Mann-Lewis said she would keep most of her thoughts to herself.
“I just thought it was sad for him to have done what he did. You never take a child from its parent, no matter what,” she said.
Mann-Lewis thanked the Missing Children Society of Canada for helping keep the investigation into her son’s disappearance alive for more than three decades. The organization works to support families of missing children and employs former police officers to try and help solve cold cases.
“I want to encourage other families with missing children and loved ones not to ever, ever give up hope on finding them,” Mann-Lewis said.
“I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering – 31 long years – one should never give up.”