A Brampton mother who was reunited with her son 31 years after he was allegedly abducted says she's living proof that missing children cases can have happy endings.
"It's been a long and hard 31-year journey since my son was abducted and I endured many, many hard days", Mann-Lewis said fighting back tears Monday at a press conference at the Toronto Police Department.
Jermaine Mann had been told by his father that his mother died shortly after his birth, Toronto police said. It's unclear if he has obtained an attorney, and he's expected to be extradited to Canada, where he may face additional charges.
Investigators say the reunion between mother and son was especially emotional because the now 33-year-old man had grown up believing his mother was dead.
Amanda Pick, the CEO of the Missing Children Society of Canada, called Lyneth Mann-Lewis "a tower of strength and perseverance".
"I want to encourage other families with missing children and loved ones not to ever, ever give up hope on finding them", she said.
A Toronto-area woman took a trip to the US over the weekend to meet the son allegedly stolen from her more than three decades ago.
Her son responded by saying, "Mommy you have my eyes".
He was arrested after the authorities received a tip from a relative that he might be living in CT in disguise. He said "mommy you have my eyes" and he kissed me.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis of Brampton met her son Jermaine Mann on Saturday in CT.
"I was sitting there wondering in my mind what was going to happen", she said.
"It felt good sitting by my baby", she said.
Authorities say Mann's father, a dual citizen of Ghana and Canada, was living in Toronto when he fled to the United States with his son during a court-ordered weekend visit, per the CBC and Canadian Press.
"They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine", Toronto Police Detective Wayne Banks said. "This is the end of the long struggle of not knowing where he is".
Allan Mann Jr. was arrested in Vernon, Connecticut, on Friday and accused of abducting his then-21-month-old son during a court-ordered visitation in Toronto on June 24, 1987.
In August, U.S. marshals interviewed several of Allan Mann's relatives and friends, including a family member who led authorities to CT and his alleged alias, according to an arrest warrant affidavit prepared by a HUD special agent. American authorities say Allan Mann Jr. and his son were living in Vernon, Conn., with the younger Mann unaware of how he had come to be in the country.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said they arrested him after reviewing his rental application for subsidized housing and discovering his birth certificate was counterfeit.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said that his agency had held a conference on fugitive training in 2016 and said this very case was discussed with U.S. law enforcement officials.
Mann-Lewis was asked by reporters if she had anything to say to her former husband.
"The name that was given to him he had no choice in", she said, per the Courant.
"He said [his wife] took all his money of out the bank and he hasn't seen her since".
"But be patient. Be strong and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire".