Mother and son reunited after 31 years
November 12, 2018
The past few weeks have been like no other for Lyneth Mann-Lewis.
When Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) chief executive officer Amanda Pick and senior investigator Ted Davis showed up at her residence on October 25, she had no idea they were the bearer of the best news she has heard in 31 years.
In June 1987, Allan Mann Jr. abducted his then 21-month-old son, Jermaine, after his mother dropped him off for a court-ordered weekend visit.
The father moved to the United States with his son and resided in the Bronx and North Carolina before settling in Vernon, Connecticut.
“We found your son and he’s alive,” Pick and Davis told a stunned Lyneth Mann-Lewis.
Those were the most uplifting words she has heard in three decades. Within 24 hours, the excited mom was on a flight to the United States.
“I didn’t sleep that night and I showed up at the airport at 4 a.m. for my scheduled 7 a.m. departure,” Mann-Lewis said. “That flight was cancelled by bad weather and it took another few hours before we left.”
Pick and Davis accompanied her to meet the older of her two children who – at a young age – was told by his father that his mom had died.
The reunion was filled with overwhelming joy.
“I grabbed him and squeezed his head because I wanted to feel if he’s real,” Mann-Lewis said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, my baby’.
Now 33, her son – who is living under an assumed name given by his father -- couldn’t contain his elation.
“He said, ‘Mommy, you have my eyes’ as he hugged and kissed me,” she recounted.
The ecstatic mother pampered her son during the short weekend visit.
“I went shopping and bought chicken to cook for dinner,” she related. “He said he didn’t eat meat, but when I asked what he expected me to do with the chicken, his response was, “Cook it, I will eat it’.
The meal consisted of chicken, squash and steamed vegetables.
“He loved the food and ate everything before driving me back to the hotel I was staying at,” said Mann-Lewis. “I felt so good sitting beside my baby and he was playing the same music in his car that my younger son listens to. We sat and talked some more in the hotel before I convinced him it was time to leave. I knew he was tired and didn’t want him driving alone late at night.”
Recent investigative work by the Toronto Police Fugitive Squad, the United States Marshals Service and the MCSC led American law enforcement authorities to identify the father and son living in the United States.
On August 24, U.S Marshals reached out to the Fugitive Squad with a possible hit identifying Allan. Facial recognition used to compare photos from 1987 and a current picture resulted in a positive identification.
At a press conference at police headquarters on October 29, chief Mark Saunders said the Mann case was discussed with American law enforcement officials at the 2016 Toronto Police Fugitive Squad conference.
“Through trans-border co-operation, including the use of technology, U.S Marshals positively identified Allan Mann and his son,” he noted.
Mann, who was arrested on October 26 and charged with making false statements in applications to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, will face an abduction charge when he is extradited to Canada after the U.S prosecute their cases.
Accompanied by her husband Winston Lewis and another family member, Mann-Lewis said the past three decades have been very challenging.
“It has been a long and hard journey since my son was abducted,” she said. “I have endured many hard days, some which are extremely difficult to describe. Today, with utmost happiness, I am here to share with you the end of a journey. The constant worrying is finally over.”
Mann-Lewis said the inspiration she received over the years from many people encouraged her to maintain hope and belief that she would eventually be able to be reunited with her son.
“I am at a loss for words when it comes to describing how much I am thankful to the Canadian and United States agencies involved in making this happen and solving a crime that was committed,” she added.
Amanda Pick, the MCSC chief executive officer, said Mann-Lewis reached out to her organization two days after her son was abducted, asking for help.
“For 31 years, we stood with her and we stood beside police in the search and hope of finding Jermaine and bringing him home,” she said.
Pick said Mann-Lewis is an inspiration to those who dedicated their time to finding her son.
“When you talk about hope, there is no better example of a family who has a missing child,” she added. “…Hope is what drives all of the police services and individuals who search relentlessly and hope drives our organization as well.”
Mann-Lewis acknowledges that the road ahead for her son wouldn’t be easy as he adjusts to a harsh new reality.
After not knowing his whereabouts for over three decades, just supporting him is an honour she gladly embraces.