An 8-year-old Seattle boy was heading home with his parents Tuesday while the man accused of abducting him there last week awaited his own return to face kidnapping and child molestation charges.
After being stranded in St. Louis, Mo., for two days by the blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast, Laura Stringfellow and her former husband, David Sullivan, held an emotional, private reunion with son Nicholas Sullivan, 8, at Kennedy International Airport.
“Relieved and overjoyed and complete,” Stringfellow said when asked her reaction to seeing her son again. “I ran and hugged him … now we’re going to get on a plane and go home.”
Sullivan gave “Niki,” as the boy is known, a toy train and a compass - “so he doesn’t get lost again,” the father explained.
Niki, brought to the airport by FBI agents but evidently unfazed by all the attention, borrowed his father’s camcorder and trained it on the TV crews that were taping him.
The boy was picked up, along with Jason J. Murphy, 19, at a Manhattan hotel early Sunday. A desk clerk had recognized them from a segment on the syndicated television show, “America’s Most Wanted.”
The pair had been the subject of a nationwide search since last Wednesday, when Murphy, allegedly disguised as a woman, took Nicholas from his school in the Seattle suburb of Lynwood and vanished.
They apparently flew to New York and holed up in an $86-a-night room at the Hotel Grand Union, where the team of FBI agents and police seized them without difficulty.
The 12:45 a.m. raid came just hours after their story was featured on the weekly crime show.
Charged with kidnapping and molesting the boy in Snohomish County, Murphy waived extradition in a court hearing late Sunday, said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
Snohomish authorities say Murphy and Niki became acquainted at a summer camp where Murphy worked as a counselor in 1994.
The parents apparently encouraged the friendship until a few months ago when Murphy’s behavior raised suspicions that the two had become, in the elder Sullivan’s words, “a little too close.”
Murphy was accused previously of molestation after a teacher alleged seeing him kiss the younger boy on the mouth. Free on $5,000 bail, he was due in court on that charge on the day the pair vanished.