SOMERSET COUNTY, N.J. (CBS 2) — A New Jersey mother who fled the state with her six-year-old daughter 26 years ago, where they lived under assumed names, said she ran because she was scared.
On Friday, she faced a judge after being extradited.
Shaken and scared, the 58-year-old walked out of jail Friday after making bail.
“I am just happy to be out, and can’t wait to see my daughter,” she said.
Nancy Dunsavage Fiedler were brought to court for the alleged kidnapping of her daughter in 1984.
She goes by that name now, but for 26 years she was known as Debbie Reed, after prosecutors say she abducted her daughter, now 32, during a custody battle with her ex-husband and fled New Jersey.
“This has been a complete shock, a complete whirlwind,” the daughter, Melissa Reed, said. “I completely support my mother, I love her, I’m her biggest advocate.”
Born Eva Marie Fiedler, Melissa Reed changed her name for a marriage license. That’s how authorities realized the girl, who had been missing without a trace for all these years, was living in Nevada.
“After 26 years, I honestly did not believe that she’d be located,” Somerville Police Captain George Fazio said.
Reed said she didn’t know about her past until a conversation with her mother about the license, and that she believed her father was dead.
Dunsavage Fiedler’s attorney said his client had no idea law enforcement was looking for her.
“She was running from her ex-husband, who she was afraid of and still is afraid of,” defense attorney James Wronko said.
Reed’s father, now in New Hampshire, denies abuse allegations. Reed, who has spoken to her father on the phone, wouldn’t say if they’ll have a relationship, but she said her Nevada town is raising money for her mother’s legal fees.
“The whole community supports us. They love us, they love my mother so much, they want her back,” Reed said. “I’m so happy that she’s going to come home.”
Even Reed’s family in court didn’t know where she was. Reed and Dunsavage Fiedler were living without Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses.
Dunsavage Fiedler said she’ll be going back to Nevada until her next court appearance in New Jersey. She’s scheduled back in court on December 3.
The judge set bail at $2,500.