SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Officials have charged a 34-year-old woman with child abduction after they say she kidnapped her son and took him to Zambia for four years to keep the boy away from his father.
Silvia Chilombo Mulenga is charged with one felony count of child abduction. If she’s convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison.
She is currently a fugitive and believed to be living in her native Zambia.
The father and son were recently reunited after nearly four years.
Authorities said Mulenga and John Cotton Sr. were married in 2005 and divorced three years later.
The couple shared joint custody of their 4-year-old son.
In 2009, after she lost her job and was evicted from her home, Mulenga told the court she intended to return to Zambia with her son.
A court order prohibited her from taking the child but the Orange County DA said that is what she did in early December 2009.
By December 17th, with the boy still in Zambia, the courts awarded sole custody to Cotton.
In July 2013, the Cypress Police Department and the FBI learned that Cotton and the boy’s maternal grandmother went to the Netherlands to visit the boy’s uncle, a professional soccer player.
Dutch authorities were contacted and the boy was picked up from the uncle’s home. Authorities in the Netherlands say Mulenga lied to them saying Cotton was abusive to the boy and that’s why she was keeping them apart.
After three months of court wrangling in the Netherlands, Cotton was finally able to leave the country with his son.
Officials said he and the boy arrived back in California Wednesday evening.
Deputy DA Jim Bacin of the Child Abduction Unit is prosecuting the case against Mulenga.