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Man sentenced to prison for kidnapping son

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POSTED August 6, 2012 8:41 p.m.


 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — For more than two years, Christine Stackhouse lived one of a parent's worst nightmares — her son, Greg, had been kidnapped.

Stackhouse knew the culprit, her ex-husband John Silah, but she had no idea where they were, if her son was safe or if he even missed her.

On Monday, Stackhouse said she was satisfied that Siliah was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for kidnapping their son, now 14, four years ago. Although father and son haven't spoken since they were found living in The Netherlands, Stackhouse said she won't prevent the two from having a relationship.

"I'm not going to do what his dad did to me," Stackhouse, 42, said outside of the courthouse. "Whenever he's ready."

Silah and his brother George Silah kidnapped their kids in mid-2008 and took them out of the United States without the mothers' consent. Instead of boarding a Disney cruise leaving from Florida as promised by George Silah, the group traveled to Mexico, Central America and Europe before getting caught in November 2010, authorities said.

George Silah, who kidnapped his two teenage sons, received the same 27-month sentence in May. Both brothers pleaded guilty to one count of international parental kidnapping.

Dressed in a white prison jumpsuit, Silah, 52, maintained he's a good father but hopes he can rekindle the relationship he had with his son who he said "is my life."

"I failed him when I took him away from his mom," Silah said. "I truly regret it."

The Silahs said they abducted their children because threats were made by clients in a soured business deal. Court documents show there may have been more than 15 victims, including one man who says he was bilked out of more than $200,000 by the Silah brothers and their associates.

Court documents reveal the brothers, fearful of retaliation, wore bullet-proof vests while at home. Silah's attorney Matt Kohn said death threats were left on voicemails at his client's home about the time of the kidnapping but said it was later determined the disgruntled clients were just trying to act tough.

The ex-wives said they were never contacted by the Silahs throughout the two-year ordeal. The women blogged about the case, appeared on TV's "Dr. Phil" show and a reward was offered for information leading to the return of the Silah boys.

FBI agents were tipped to the group's whereabouts through a confidential source who said the children's grandparents traveled from their home in Syria to Greece in June 2010. Investigators learned the grandparents were using Dutch memory chips in their cell phones. They also found John and George Silah had contacted a Dutch attorney in hopes of legitimizing their stay overseas.

Life on the run has taken a toll on her son, Stackhouse said. He's missed two years of schooling, has trouble falling asleep and obsesses about ensuring all the doors and windows are locked when he enters his house, she said.

Stackhouse said her son has gone through extensive therapy and claims that he wasn't taken to the doctor when he was sick and had to have a large growth on his head surgically removed when he returned to the U.S.

She added her son told her he spent a lot of time indoors and playing video games during the two years he was missing.

Alex Silah, who also was abducted gave a different account, saying his father and his uncle took extremely good care of the boys while they lived overseas.

"The actions were wrong but I feel my uncle is one of the kindest people in the world," the younger Silah said in court.

 

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