One year after the mother of Kaydance Paige Etchells came forward with an emotional tale of parental abduction, Saanich Police say they have tracked down a person of interest in the Netherlands.
Acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie said Tuesday that police are trying to contact Marco van der Merwe with the hope he can offer information about the whereabouts of Kaydance. Van der Merwe was engaged to Kaydance’s abductor, Lauren Ann Etchells, the estranged wife of Kaydance’s mother, Tasha Brown.
“Detectives are attempting to locate him in hopes that he can provide valuable information about the whereabouts of Kaydance and Lauren,” said Leslie in a release.
Police issued the statement one year after Brown held a news conference during which she described how her estranged wife Lauren Etchells had abducted Kaydance, who turns three years old today.
Lauren Etchells has been the subject of a Canadawide warrant since June 8, 2016 for abducting Kaydance. She has been red-flagged internationally and, if caught, will be detained for extradition.
Brown and Etchells conceived Kaydance through the use a donor.
Etchells carried and gave birth to Kaydance in 2014. The name of both parents appeared on Kaydance’s first birth certificate and the family lived happily in Edmonton, Brown said. Brown and Etchells had been in a relationship since 2009 and married in 2012.
But things began to change with a separation process that started in July 2015. That year Etchells obtained a secondary birth certificate for Kaydance, showing her as the only parent.
In September 2015, a court ordered Etchells to surrender her and Kaydance’s passports and remain on Vancouver Island until a court could consider the case.
But Etchells disregarded this order and abducted Kaydance on May 8, 2016, when she 19 months old. Etchells, who has a UK passport, fled to London with Kaydance, and her infant son, Marcus, on a WestJet flight, police said.
Following the separation, Brown said she learned that Etchells was engaged to van der Merwe, a South African living in Qatar. When Saanich Police initially reached van der Merwe, he was not co-operative, Leslie said a year ago.
One notable issue concerns the police’s decision to withhold information about the case for several months. Leslie said a main reason for this was to protect Etchells from harm. “We didn’t want to endanger her if she’s in a Middle East country or a country that views same-sex [relationships] as illegal,” Leslie said.
Etchells has a history of visiting the Middle East. Brown and Etchells had planned to spend two years in the United Arab Emirates, a plan that ceased with their separation.