Two children who went missing during a court-ordered visit with their father have been reunited with their mother in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a nearly four-year manhunt across North America.
Winnipeg police said the two, 11-year-old Dominic Maryk and his sister Abby Maryk, 9, were rescued from a house in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday. Their father and another man were both arrested.
"I am the happiest mommy in the world right now," the children's mother, Emily Cablek, said in a statement read by Winnipeg police. "We have a long road ahead, and I want my children to feel completely safe through all of it."
The two children went missing on Aug. 30, 2008, while on a two-week visit with their father. Over the years, police tracked the group to at least five different locations, and recently focused their efforts on two areas of Mexico, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.
The breakthrough came after Winnipeg police sent photos and a video of the children to Mexican media, resulting in someone recognizing them and tipping off Mexican police.
"This is an evil individual who did not want to be found," said Detective Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld of Winnipeg Police Service.
Kevin Douglas Maryk, and Robert Neil Groen now face extradition to Canada on charges of child abduction, while police are still looking for a third man.
Christy Dzikowicz, a director at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection said the children were "confined" to a house in Mexico, with no playmates, no schooling and no connection to the outside world.
Local media said the house was protected by security cameras, guard dogs and a wall topped with barbed wire, and police found drugs, weapons and child pornography inside. Police declined to comment on those details.
Dzikowicz said the children recognized their mother, and Dominic asked for a Slurpee drink.
"These are two quite resilient young children," she said.