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Gary Younge
Boy spots his kidnap photo on net

A Californian teenager discovered that he was apparently abducted as a toddler after he spotted a picture of himself on a missing children's website.

The 17-year-old, who has not been named, was surfing the web when he stumbled across a picture of himself as a three-year-old. It was attached to the story of a child whose mother kidnapped him from his father's home in Canada 14 years ago.

According to the US marshall's office he then told a teacher at his school in the San Fernando Valley, which sparked a federal investigation leading to the arrest of his mother last week. Giselle-Marie Goudreault, 45, was being held without bail until Canadian authorities could extradite her on child abduction charges, while the boy was put into foster care. He was said to be extremely distraught by his mother's arrest and tried to comfort her while she was being led away.

Meanwhile his father, Rodney Steinmann, has asked that the boy be released into his custody. "A conversation with him is a long time overdue. It would be a relief to ask him if he's OK," he told the Edmonton Sun.

The youth's grandparents on his father's side were "thrilled" at the prospect of getting to know him, the Washington Post reported. Berni Steinmann told the paper: "We are happy something is finally happening. My son has been worried for the last 14 years. We'd like to give the young fellow all the support we can."

Los Angeles deputy marshall Jimell Griffin told the Post: "The father still has legal custody based on a 1989 court order." He had learned almost a year ago from the Royal Canadian mounted police that his son might have been in the Los Angeles area. But it was not until the teenager came across his photo and told his teacher that US authorities got involved, Mr Griffin said.

Ms Goudreault had been granted only weekend visits when she abducted her son, who was then living with his father in Red Deer, Alberta. During one of those visits she took him and fled to Mexico and then to Los Angeles, while the Canadian authorities issued a warrant for her arrest.

"They were taking her child away and she did what she had to do," said Melissa Goudreault, her sister-in-law in Red Deer.

"The family is behind her and is trying to raise money for her legal defence."

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