Patricia Nunnink, who abducted her 3-year-old daughter Melissa and kept her from her father for 10 years, has another daughter by an earlier marriage whom she did not see for that same 10-year period.
Nunnink surrendered to authorities in Montgomery County earlier this month after her second husband, Dale LaMendola, completed a 10-year search for his daughter, whom he calls "Missy."
LaMendola knew Nunnink's first husband and that she had not been in contact with her other daughter.
The daughter from that first marriage, a 17-year-old who lives in the Southeast, has not been told that her mother has reappeared. Her father, Nunnink's first husband, was waiting to tell his daughter until after Nunnink resolved the custody dispute over Melissa, said LaMendola's mother, Georgia, who knew the girl because she regularly visited LaMendola and Nunnink when they were married.
Nunnink, a nurse who has remarried, refused to talk to a reporter yesterday and her lawyer could not be reached for comment. According to LaMendola's attorney, Carl L. Frederick, "Patricia is very anxious to reestablish visitations with her daughter and Missy's half-sister."
Yesterday, Domestic Relations Master Rita Rosenkrantz approved a consent order between LaMendola and Nunnink that could help reestablish a relationship for LaMendola and a daughter who was a toddler when he last played with her.
In August 1980, while visiting Melissa in Montgomery County, Nunnink abducted the 3-year-old girl. LaMendola undertook a massive search for his daughter, appearing on national television and spending thousands of dollars.
In February, with the assistance of the FBI and several child search groups, LaMendola found Melissa and Nunnink in Burlington, Vt.
Two weeks ago, Rosenkrantz directed Nunnink to "reintroduce" Melissa to her father through counseling sessions with a pyschologist and pyschiatrist. After a rocky start, the three finally began meeting this week, Dale LaMendola said.
Yesterday, Rosenkrantz, who said she will recommend approval of the consent order to a circuit court judge, praised LaMendola and Nunnink for setting aside personal feelings for their daughter's well-being.
"Everybody deserves a gold star," Rosenkrantz said. "I think you have done well with this consent order. All the issues have been dealt with in a reasonable manner."
Melissa was not in court yesterday.
Rosenkrantz urged the parents to refrain from making disaparaging comments about each other to Melissa.
"It's time to go on to something else," she said. "You have used up your quota of animosity."
Under the consent order, LaMendola retains sole custody of his daughter, but the 13-year-old girl will live with her mother during the school year in Burlington.
The order outlines specific visitation rights for LaMendola, including one full weekend each month, six consecutive weeks during the summer and half of Christmas and spring break holidays.
Nunnink also faces criminal charges in connection with Melissa's abduction.
On Aug. 10, Nunnink surrendered to Montgomery County authorities and pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping as part of a plea arrangement with prosecutors.
Nunnink faces a 30-day jail term and $250 fine when she is scheduled to be sentenced next month.