Dear Savanna – 48-Hours tells the story about mom who abducted daughter an eluded the FBI for 19 years

Lee and Savanna were found in 2013
Lee Barnett then and now (2013)

UPDATE 11/15/15/ – CBS preempted 48-Hours because of the Paris attack.  They state they will run the Dear Savanna story at a later date.  Check with the CBS website to find that time.

Original story:  CBS’s 48-Hours story called “Dear Savanna” about missing baby Savanna Barnett and her mother who evaded the law for 19 years will air on Saturday night.

Dorothy Lee Barnett and daughter, Savanna Catherine Barnett Todd tell their side of the story of vanishing after Lee lost custody of her daughter.

After watching the trailer, what is noticeable in the interview is the Cheshire cat smile Lee sports when ever she talks about her self.  “I feel the FBI, and every other law enforcement agency,  underestimated me,” Lee smugly claims.

In 1994, court records show that the family court found that “the mother steadfastly rejected that the father had a role of value to the child and that she and the child would be better off if he were not in the picture at all.”  Harris Todd, Savanna’s father also claimed that Lee was abusive and his testimony and the court findings led to Todd receiving full custody of Savanna.

48-Hours states they have been following Todd’s story for years as he grieves for the loss of his daughter and continues his search for her along with the authorities.

Samantha (Savanna) Todd

Then three years ago a tip lead to Lee, who had been living on the Sunshine Coast in Australia under an assumed name.  Lee was charged and extradited to Charleston, S.C. and sentenced.  She served two years in prison and is not allowed to return to Australia as part of her parole.   Savanna has chosen to stay in Australia.

Savanna or rather Samantha Geldenhuys who is 21 now, told the courts after her mom plead guilty to parental kidnapping that she had been raised very fortunately.  “I was loved beyond belief.”  She stated in an Australian TV interview in 2014 that she had no idea she had been taken by her mom.  But, I wonder if that is not a lie, as there are reports that Lee would call Samantha, Savanna on occasion, and that paired with Samantha not wanted to see her dad without conditions, I can’t help but wonder if she has known for years that her father was in America and her mother was on the run.  But to her defense she only knows the story her mother has told her about her dad. We just do not know when she told her about him. It could have been years ago, or after she was arrested.

Todd still waits to be reunited with his daughter. Watch the preview of the show below:

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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