Janet Jenkins, left, hadn’t seen her daughter since 2009 when former partner Lisa Miller fled to Nicaragua to avoid sharing custody of the girl. Photo courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center
A former Vermont woman who fled the country with her daughter more than a decade ago – in a custody battle with her former Civil Union partner that has become an international kidnapping case – is currently in custody.
Lisa Miller was listed as an inmate in a federal prison in Miami on Monday afternoon.
A Florida federal judge has ordered her to be detained until her case can be referred to a federal court in the western borough of New York where the kidnapping allegations have been made. Authorities claim she traveled to Canada through New York State when she fled the country in 2009.
A federal conspiracy and kidnapping warrant had been issued for Miller’s arrest, along with others who had helped her escape and hide in Nicaragua for years.
The case known as Miller-Jenkins v Miller-Jenkins was one of the first legal cases to hit national headlines highlighting the fate of children in relationships that were sanctioned in one state but not in others.
Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins had moved to Vermont from Virginia in 2000 to form a civil union, and they returned to Virginia, where they decided that Lisa would conceive a child through artificial insemination.
The child Isabella was born in Virginia in April 2002 and the two women returned to Vermont. They later disbanded and requested the dissolution of their civil union. Miller moved back to Virginia and Jenkins lived in Fair Haven, Vermont.
In 2004, Judge William Cohen, now appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court, made a landmark decision in the civil union’s custody battle.
In this case, Cohen issued a ruling that, for the first time in Vermont, gave a person in a civil union legal rights as a parent when that person was not the birth or adoptive parent of a child.
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Eventually, Cohen granted custody to Jenkins when Miller repeatedly refused to obey orders from the family court, including the visit. However, Jenkins gained custody when Miller fled.
In addition to the criminal charges, Miller is faced with a civil lawsuit Jenkins has filed against her and those who allegedly helped her escape the country.
The arrest became known when Jenkins’ attorney filed a subpoena against Miller on Monday in connection with the civil lawsuit, finding that she was in custody in Florida. She had reported to the US embassy in Nicaragua.
According to Jenkins’ file, Miller was “brought back to the United States and arrested in Miami” on January 27 and appeared there for the first time in federal court the next day. She was held until transferred to New York State on criminal charges.
This story will be updated.
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