A 16-month search for an American girl taken from her father in Germany ended Friday in Spokane.
A security guard walking the grounds at Sacred Heart Medical Center recognized Megan Mulczynski, now 13, from missing-person fliers, according to a Spokane Police Department press release.
The girl’s mother told police that a Catholic priest from Germany was helping the two of them relocate in Spokane under false names. The mother, 50-year-old Gail Elk Canno Mulczynski, was booked into Spokane County Jail on charges of custodial interference.
Gail Mulczynski, who was declared mentally ill by a psychiatrist appointed by a German court, refused a request for a jailhouse interview Friday.
The girl’s father, Tom Mulczynski, plans to fly to Spokane today, and expects to be in court on Monday.
“I have all the legal documents in place to give me custody,” Mulczynski said in an interview from his Virginia home, shortly after learning late Friday that his daughter had been found. “I have butterflies in my stomach.”
Mulczynski, a civilian employee at the Pentagon, said he’s been unable to talk to his daughter for about four years and hasn’t seen her in more than two years.
“She was with Gail for all this time … and she’s made Megan afraid of me,” he said. “So it’s sort of an issue whether it will be OK for me to pick Megan up and bring her home after all these years.
“I’m going to see what (Child Protective Services) can do to help me, as far as the transition.”
The case started in Germany, where the couple divorced while Tom Mulczynski was working at Ramstein Air Base. He says he was awarded custody of Megan on Dec. 9, 2004 – his 44th birthday. But his ex-wife disappeared with the girl for a time, and then legal complications prevented his taking custody.
In 2006, with the court battle ongoing, he was reassigned and had to return to the United States. According to his Web site, www.rescuemegan.net, his new job is procuring ammunition for the Marine Corps.
Gail Mulcynski had been “diagnosed with chronic paranoid schizophrenia and delusions, and declared a danger to her daughter,” the Web site asserts.
Tom Mulczynski contends that earlier in the decade, through the counseling of the Rev. Clement Marcantonio, an Air Force chaplain, Gail Mulczynski had come to believe that she’d been the victim of “horrific sexual and physical satanic ritual abuse by every member of her family and two Catholic priests in Chicago, where she grew up.”
Gradually, during 2002 and 2003, he writes on the Web site, she also started to believe that she was being abused by people on the Air Force base in Germany. She also alleged abuse by Tom Mulczynski.
Megan Mulczynski also was counseled by Marcantonio and came to believe that she had been abused by her father, an allegation that the Web site says was investigated by U.S. and German authorities. “Not a single person accused has ever been arrested or charged with a crime,” the site states.
In addition to Marcantonio, Gail Mulczynski was counseled by the Rev. Tom Doyle, according to the Web site.
Doyle gained notoriety in America several years ago with the disclosure that in 1985 he had written a 200-page report warning American Catholic bishops that some priests were abusing children and that the church was complicit. Doyle, whom a bishop removed from the chaplaincy at Ramstein in 2003, has since spoken on the subject of priest sex abuse, including last year in Spokane.
Although a Spokane police press release doesn’t say whether Gail Mulczynski identified the priest who helped her relocate to Spokane, her ex-husband says that Marcantonio persuaded members of his parish to hide her when she disappeared with her daughter in 2004. According to Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for members of the U.S. military, German authorities searched Marcantonio’s home after the mother and child abandoned their German apartment for good in July 2006.
“I suspected this one priest all along,” Mulczynski said Friday.
In an American translation of their 2006 court order giving Mulczynski custody of his daughter, a panel of German appeals court judges wrote that Gail Mulczynski “wants to protect herself and the daughter from the influences of this ‘enemy,’ ” meaning Tom Mulczynski.
The judges rejected that fear as paranoia.
Tom Mulczynski said he learned a year ago from an FBI agent that his ex-wife and daughter had been spotted here, at a Catholic Charities event in which volunteers raked leaves at the homes of those unable to do the work themselves.
“Why Spokane, I have no idea,” he said. “I’m just guessing the connection with the Air Force base has something to do with it … I can’t see any other possibilities.”
Mulczynski said he hired a private investigator here, but came up with no leads. So he and his girlfriend came to Spokane two weeks ago hoping Gail Mulczynski would turn up for this year’s leaf-raking event.
They didn’t find her, but distributed missing-person fliers, including at Sacred Heart, because of its mental hospital.
It was one of those fliers that led to the girl’s identification Friday.