4-year-old Kaydance Etchells and Lauren Etchells – the mother who took her to Europe, away from her other parent, in defiance of a court order – have been found, according to an update from Saanich Police today.
In 2016, nineteen-month-old Kaydance Etchells was reported missing by her mother, Tasha Brown.
At the time, Brown believed that Kaydance had been abducted by her other mother – Brown’s ex-partner – Lauren Etchells who is a dual citizen of Canada and the United Kingdom.
Brown and Etchells got Kaydance through a donor process in 2014 before the two separated in 2015. Lauren had given birth to Kaydance and had full custody of the child, while Brown had visitation rights.
The next year, in 2016, Lauren Etchells defied a court order and obtained a passport for Kaydance.
At the time, police were able to determine that she then took the infant on board WestJet Flight 22 from Vancouver to London Gatwick Airport along with Etchells’ new partner, Marco van der Merwe.
What happened next
In a statement on July 4th, Saanich Police released details of a series of events that took place during the ensuing international search for Kaydance and Lauren Etchells.
Through the police investigation and Tasha Brown’s own search via social media, officers determined that Etchells and Marco van der Merwe had taken Kaydance from Canada to England, France, the Netherlands, the Middle East and possibly to Spain and Portugal.
At some point during these travels, Etchells broke off her relationship with van der Merwe but continued to travel across Europe with Kaydance and her son Marcus.
Once her movements through Europe came to light, INTERPOL issued a Red Notice, or an international “Wanted” flag, for Lauren Etchells’ arrest.
Caught red handed
On Monday, July 1st, 2019 Saanich Police received a call from the RCMP Liaison Office in London, England advising them that Lauren and Kaydance Etchells had been found.
The two were found landing a 13 foot inflatable dinghy on the shores just south of St. Catherine, Jersey, a small island in the English Channel.
They were accompanied by Lauren’s son Marcus, and her parents Brian and
The group was picked up by the States of Jersey Police and Jersey Customs and Immigration Service, who found that none of the 5 individuals had passports.
Once Jersey Police learned their identities, they believed that the group may have been trying to get to the UK via Jersey in order to avoid passport control on UK soil.
Lauren Etchells and her parents were all arrested and charged with offences relating to child neglect and immigration.
While all three have pled guilty, Lauren remains in custody as a result of a provisional arrest warrant for her extradition to Canada.
For the time being the two children, Kaydance and Marcus, have been placed in foster care while authorities work through the complexities of this international investigation.
Relief for Tasha Brown
The lengthy process of bringing the now 4-year-old Kaydance and Lauren Etchells back to Canada has just begun, according to Saanich Police.
When Kaydance was taken in 2016, her other mother Tasha Brown started a Facebook page called ‘Where in the World is Kaydance?‘ as part of a social media search for her daughter.
Now that she has been found, Brown expressed her gratitude and excitement at the prospect of seeing her daughter again in a statement:
“I am extremely grateful to learn that she is in good health and good care. I am celebrating today. Kaydance is alive, and we know where she is,” said Brown.
“But I can’t celebrate 100% yet. Not until Kaydance is back in Canada. It is for this reason that I am spending today with my lawyer, and the various other agencies involved in bringing Kaydance home safely and…SOON!! But there is a lot I still need to do.”
“For now, I wish to thank some of the people and agencies that have helped, including: Elisabeth Strain and the Saanich Police Department for their devotion to this case, along with Global Affairs Canada and the Central Authorities in Victoria, BC and London, UK. Today would not be happening without these special people.”
“I am also grateful for the love I received from the friends and family who kept me going during the lowest of lows. I guess a person can survive on hope. Thank you all for this reminder.”