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Woman arrested 11 years after illegally taking sons

December 31, 2009

Pennsylvania police have arrested a woman who authorities say fled Washington state 11 years ago with her two sons against a court order instructing her to return them to their father, police said.

Jill Haugen was arrested at her home in Milton, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, days after she had contacted police saying she didn't want to take care of her sons any longer, Milton Police Chief Craig Lutcher told CNN.

Police in Spokane, Washington, said a felony warrant for first-degree custodial interference was issued for her in 1998. The Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, district attorney's office said she has been charged with being a fugitive from justice and is awaiting an extradition hearing. It was not immediately clear if she had retained legal representation.

Police made two trips to her house after her Saturday phone call, Lutcher said, and the sons, now ages 15 and 16, were placed into foster care after the second visit, on Sunday.

A caseworker discovered through an Internet search that there was a warrant from Washington state for Haugen's arrest and told police, Lutcher said.

Police said Haugen had provided them with two different names on two different occasions.

Haugen, who was known as Jill Connington when she was married to Bill Connington, did not win primary custody of the couple's children in 1998 after the two had divorced, police in Spokane said.

"They were with her on a visitation and she never brought them back," Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern said.

When she disappeared, according to police, the felony warrant for first-degree custodial interference was issued for her, police said.

Bill Connington told CNN that he was a "little overwhelmed with everything."

"I've had thoughts of possibly never seeing [his sons] again but never gave up hope I would," he said.

He said he was speaking with caseworkers about getting the teenagers to Washington.

As she was escorted by police, Haugen told media she was a domestic abuse survivor and that her two sons were sexual abuse survivors. It was not immediately clear against whom she was leveling the sexual abuse accusations.

"We've been in this state since 2000," she said. "We are legal residents."

McGovern said a sexual abuse allegation was filed in 1995 on behalf of the children, but authorities were not able to substantiate anything from it.

Asked about the abuse, Connington denied any wrongdoing and said he had offered during the custody hearings to do whatever he needed to prove his innocence.

Source: AP

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