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Flight Forced to Return to D.C. Airport For Child's Alleged Kidnapping

The FBI said Friday that it received an alert that a child on board was allegedly being taken out of the country illegally by the mother.

A Beijing-bound flight was forced to turn around mid-air Thursday and return to Washington, D.C., because of a child custody investigation, officials said. The FBI ordered United Airlines Flight 897, which had left shortly after noon, to return to Washington Dulles International Airport while it was already five hours into the trip over Canadian airspace. Authorities received reports that mom Wenjing Liu was allegedly trying to take her 4-year-old son out of the U.S. illegally, the FBI said.

Once in D.C., authorities arrested Liu and reunited the child with the father. Liu had told the boy's father, William Ruifrok III, that they were going to China because her grandmother was dying, according to court documents. Ruifrok warned her to leave their son in the U.S. When she failed to comply, he alerted law enforcement, NBC Washington reported. The custody agreement between the parents did not allow the child to be taken out of the country.

Liu was expected to be charged with international parental kidnapping and appear in federal court at 2 p.m. Friday. Flight 897 eventually took off again Thursday night and was scheduled to arrive in China on Friday.

— Mike Kosnar