From staff and wire reports
CROWN POINT, Ind. Police brought a Cedar Lake woman back from Mississippi on Monday to face charges she abducted a 7-year-old boy rather than return him to his biological father’s custody.
Lake County police flew 41-year-old Mona Smith from an Iuka jail to O’Hare Airport in Chicago, then took her to the Lake County Jail.
She is scheduled to have an initial hearing Thursday morning before Judge Richard W. Maroc on a charge of interfering with custody, a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.
The judge is expected to enter an innocent plea on her behalf, and Deputy Prosecutor Julie Cantrell is expected to argue that Smith’s bail should be raised to ensure her future appearance in court because she is a flight risk.
Smith was the subject of a 20-month search by state and federal police after she disappeared with Nathan Smith, the boy she wanted to adopt, but was ordered to return to his biological father, 35-year-old Terry Vaughan of Griffith.
Nathan was born in 1988 to Vaughan and Barbara Dzurovcak Ryzewski of Hammond, who never married.
Their relationship cooled during her pregnancy. She gave the child up for adoption to her friends, the Smiths.
Vaughan was notified of the Smiths’ adoption request and stopped it in court. However, Nathan remained with the Smiths and in a legal limbo while Vaughan and the Smiths battled in court for custody of the boy.
A Newton County judge ruled in early 1994 that it was in Nathan’s best interests to live with Vaughan. Nathan and Mona Smith disappeared April 24, 1994, shortly before the order was to be enforced.
The FBI finally tracked them down in Iuka where Smith, a registered nurse, was working in a shoe factory and Nathan attended the elementary school. They arrested her and returned Nathan to his father’s custody two weeks ago.
Daily Journal staff writer Jane Clark Summers contributed to this report.