More than 30 years ago, Elaine Yates disappeared with her two children, Kelly and Kimberly.
“Based upon the initial investigation, it is believed that Mrs. Yates left home with the couple’s children due to a domestic dispute,” Rhode Island State Police said in a news release this week.
Mother and daughters lived in Rhode Island at the time. But three decades later, they were discovered in Texas, according to authorities, who on Tuesday announced that Elaine Yates has been arrested.
In December, the Rhode Island State Police got information about the possible whereabouts of Yates and her two daughters, according to a news release from the agency. She was eventually located living in Houston under an alias.
Authorities took Yates into custody on Monday, according to the state police. She was arrested “without incident” and confirmed her real identity. Rhode Island State Police Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin told the Associated Press that a tip helped them locate Elaine Yates.
“Over the past 31 years, numerous leads have been investigated, with negative results,” Philbin told reporters, according to a video posted on the Providence Journal’s website. “Days before Christmas this past year, members of our major crimes unit received information that Elaine Yates was living in Houston, Texas, under an alias name, with her daughters.”
Yates’s daughters were also in Texas and also using alias names, Philbin said.
“License photographs and social media accounts were located and confirm all their identities,” he said.
Yates has been charged with child snatching, Rhode Island State Police said in the release. She is due to be arraigned in Rhode Island on Wednesday. Philbin said both daughters were interviewed by authorities, but their current identities wouldn’t be released.
“It’s all about my children,” Russell Yates, the father of Kelly and Kimberly, told the told the Providence Journal. “Hopefully they’ll want to get in touch with me. They’re adults now. So that’s up to them.”
Russell Yates, who was married to Elaine Yates, admitted to the Journal in 1988 that he struck his wife, who had caught him with another woman, during an argument. He claimed that she slapped him during the heated fight. Weeks later, Russell Yates returned home in the early morning hours and discovered that Elaine Yates and their two children were gone.
“I went downstairs, got a soda and made myself a sandwich. I put the TV on for a while,” Yates told the Journal at the time. “Normally my wife would hear me, come down and talk to me for a while, see how the night went.
“After a while, she still didn’t come down.”
The Journal reports that Russell Yates got custody of his daughters months after the 1985 disappearance, after Elaine Yates did not contest the suit. A year later, in 1986, he sued his mother-in-law. That woman, Mary Pigeon, was jailed in 1990, after refusing to tell officials where her grandchildren and daughter were.
“When you are prepared to cooperate with the court’s order you can inform your counsel. I’ll bring you back at that time and we will consider releasing you from your sentence,” Judge Mark A. Pfeiffer told Pigeon, according to UPI.
Pigeon, who had said that she didn’t know where her daughter or the children were, was released after a few days.
“I can’t imagine what will be more coercive than what the court has done in the past few days,” Pfeiffer, told Pigeon when she appeared before him then, according to the Associated Press. “I hope somehow you can look into your heart and your conscience and understand what is being done here.”
Russell Yates told reporters this week that he has “always been trying to find my children,” according to an Associated Press report.
The news service reported that when he was asked whether Elaine Yates should face criminal prosecution for her alleged actions, Russell Yates responded: “That isn’t going to help me, her or anybody else at this point. I just want to see my kids.”