Two teenage sisters in Minnesota, who had been missing for more than two and a half years after running away in the midst of a custody battle between their parents, have been found.
Samantha and Gianna Rucki, ages 16 and 17 respectively, vanished in the midst of a bitter custody dispute between their parents, Fox 9 reports.
Before they vanished, the girls claimed their father, David Rucki, was physically and emotionally abusing them. He, however, insisted that was a lie, alleging that the girls’ mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, had turned his daughters against him in a case of parental alienation.
The girls ended up running away from their father in April of 2013 and they haven’t been seen since – until Wednesday, when U.S. marshals discovered them on the farm in Herman, Minnesota.
Authorities said they believe the girls’ mother, Sandra, helped them run away from their father, David. Sandra was apprehended in Florida on Oct. 18 but did not disclose any information regarding the whereabouts of her daughters.
The sisters were eventually found at White Horse Ranch, described as a safe sanctuary for abused children.
“Broken children and hurting horses are able to bring each other to a place of healing through God’s unconditional love,” its website reads.
Police said they searched the ranch after looking for evidence at the St. Cloud, Minnesota, home of Dede Evavold, a supporter of the “Protective Parent” movement, which advocates for changing family court processes so that abusive parents are not given guardianship of their children.
Authorities said they suspect a network of people who disapprove of the family court system helped hide the teens. The ranch owner’s husband declined to comment on the incident.
According to AWM:
Owners Doug and Gina Dahlen told police that Sandra dropped the girls off at the therapy ranch. But after dropping the girls off, she never came back to visit. They said the girls had lived on the ranch from April 2013 to November 2015, when they left on their own accord.
During this time, a court-appointed psychologist reported that Sandra brainwashed her children against David and tricked them into going into hiding at the therapy ranch.
In 2013, their father obtained full custody of the sisters since there was no reliable evidence of abuse.
The girls’ mother was charged with three counts of felony deprivation of parental rights for assisting in their disappearance. She was held on a $1 million bail in Minnesota after being extradited from Florida. Sandra and her lawyer maintained that she had nothing to do with the teens’ disappearance.
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