A woman whose father was charged with kidnapping her as a child 30 years ago has been found living in Arizona, her mother and sheriff’s officials said.
On Mother’s Day weekend in 1976, Laura Gooder’s estranged husband, Eric Douglas Nielsen, picked up 21-month-old Genevieve Rachel Nielsen for an overnight visit. They never returned.
This Mother’s Day weekend, a police officer arrived Saturday at Gooder’s home in Frederic, Mich., with news that her daughter — now 31 — had been found, The Detroit News reported.
Gooder’s daughter had been raised under another name and grew up believing her mother had been killed in an auto accident. Law enforcement officials declined to release her other name.
“It is pretty surreal,” Gooder, 53, said. “I am keeping my fingers crossed and waiting for her to call.”
On Sunday, Gooder told The Associated Press that she didn’t want to speak about the case until she hears from her daughter.
Eric Nielsen was incarcerated in Arizona under a different identity on an unrelated charge, authorities said. A tip led investigators to visit an Arizona prison Thursday, said Michael Bouchard, sheriff in Michigan’s Oakland County.
Gooder’s daughter, who now has a child of her own, was traumatized by the revelations, Bouchard said.
“She obviously was told something completely different from the father,” Bouchard said. “She is devastated.”
After her daughter’s disappearance, Gooder remarried and had three sons.
Last year, U.S. marshals joined the search for Gooder’s daughter, and a judge charged Eric Nielsen with kidnapping. He had been wanted on a state kidnapping warrant since 1976.