Two Clarence, Ill. girls abducted more than a year ago have been reunited with their mother following a chase that led from Illinois to Carroll County and finally Central America.
The saga of Allene, now 13, and Mollie Hari, 15, began on April Fools Day 2005 when the girls’ mother Michelle Frakes was to have a scheduled visit.
Michael Hari, the girls’ father, and Frakes had divorced earlier and Frakes was working through the court system to acquire custody of the girls because, according to her at the time, Hari failed to ensure their attendance at school.
“At the time, I was given liberal visitation and the two of us (Frakes and Hari) agreed upon the girls coming to visit me on April 1. I received a phone call that they were all running late but were on their way – they never came,” said Frakes in early May, 2005 when information reached the Herald Journal.
Hari also failed to show up for an April 6 court date, and Frakes was then granted temporary custody of the girls. Another petition was entered in the court for Frakes to receive full custody which was ultimately granted.
But by then the girls had disappeared with Hari and the chase began.
In the month following the abduction, the three missing persons were spotted in the Rossville area where Hari had church-affiliated ties with the Old German Baptist Brethren Faith.
It was suspected at the time that a fellow church member from Delphi loaned Hari a car, which was confirmed later by Frakes.
The girls and their father were also listed with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, NCMEC, and a felony warrant from the Ford County Circuit Court in Illinois was issued for Hari.
NCMEC case Manager Michelle Morrison, who handled the case for the center, said the search targeted a 100 mile radius around Rossville, and extended to Texas where Hari had family.
The trail turned cold after that – until recently.
Dr. Phil steps in
On Thursday, the blanks were filled in through a phone call with Frakes sister, Tammy Behymer.
Behymer said the trail had taken her, Frakes, and their mother Connie Ogden from Illinois to Indiana, and from Minnesota to Texas. They were losing hope until January when they were contacted by the Dr. Phil Show.
“Our name was given to him by the NCMEC and they wanted to know if we were interested in coming to L.A. to do a show about parental abduction,” Behymer parental abduction,” Behymer said.
They were there with another couple and both cases of abduction involved religion. Dr. Phil Graham took an interest in Frakes’ case and offered to put one of their private detectives on it.
It continued to go back and forth with Behymer, Frakes and Ogden chasing leads along with the detective. Finally in mid-February the case began to break.
“We went back in mid-February and then were sent to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. We learned the girls had been located in Belize in Central America,” Behymer explained.
While they waited for further news, the Dr. Phil Show film crew was crossing borders, working through government red tape and hacking their way through the jungle to find a 2,000 acre, 18th century style settlement occupied by a religious sect.
“It was a 2,000 acre community hacked out of the jungle. They were totally self-sufficient, grew all their own food and had no electricity,” Behymer said. “The Dr. Phil Show filmed the whole time they were there, then brought the girls back and we were reunited.”
Bringing the girls, and Hari who also returned, back to the country was not an easy task. The three were undocumented and in Belize illegally, so there were more borders to cross and more red tape to work through.
The reunion finally took place at the end of March, and the family returned to Illinois with Hari who was immediately arrested on felony abduction charges.
Behymer said it appears the girls were well taken care of considering, and did not suffer any physical abuse. She added though that Mollie and Allene are going through counseling.
“They’re in a Christian school now and undergoing counseling. There are a lot of issues to deal with psychologically and they’re confused about religion,” Behymer explained.
Hari, who had no previous criminal record, is still in the court system, and is not allowed contact other than email which Behymer said is allowed, but watched carefully.
In the meantime Frakes, Mollie and Allene are working to get their lives back together, and preferred not to be interview at this time.
But their story will be told beginning next week when a three part Dr. Phil Show will air on May 2, May 9 and May 10. Behymer said the girls will make an appearance on the last segment.
Julie Ross, producer for the show, was contacted for comment but had not returned a call by press time.