After 31 years, this was a long-awaited mother and child reunion.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis was reunited with her son, who vanished with his father in Canada during a court-ordered visit on June 24, 1987, in Connecticut last week, WFSB reported.
At an emotional news conference in Toronto on Monday, Mann-Lewis, of Brampton, Ontario, said her son, Jermaine Mann, immediately said, “Oh Mommy, you have my eyes,” CBC reported.
“It’s been a long and hard 31-year journey since my son was abducted and I endured many, many hard days,” Mann-Lewis said. “I grabbed him and squeezed his head to make sure that he was real after 31 years.”
On Friday, federal authorities arrested Allen Mann Jr., 66, on suspicion of kidnapping his then-1-year-old son, WVIT reported. According to court documents, the elder Mann changed his name to Hailee Randolph DeSouza and changed the name of his son. He allegedly got both of them fake birth certificates, WFSB reported.
During the application process for HUD's Section 8 program, Mann provided a birth certificate that stated he was born in Houston, Texas, in 1957. According to federal prosecutors, Texas officials determined the birth certificate was counterfeit, WVIT reported.
Mann faces charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CBC reported. He is being detained until a probable-cause hearing on Nov. 9 in federal court in Hartford, the Hartford Courant reported.
Mann-Lewis said she never gave up hope, and that her reunion with her son proves that parents of missing children shouldn't give up hope.
"Believe that all things are possible," she told reporters at Toronto police headquarters.
Mann-Lewis said she talked with her son, now 33, and cooked for him during their reunion, CBC reported. She is not sure what will happen next, but said “I'm going to stand with him.”
"This is one of those rare cases that tugs at your heartstrings," special agent Christina Scaringi of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told WVIT. "Not only did we, working collectively, get this alleged bad actor off the streets, but we played a role in reuniting an unjustly separated family."