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Reunited - Mother Rejoices

The Gazette Montreal/February 5, 1994
By Maria Tratt

Judy Seymour says the two years spent searching for her 11-year-old son have been the most painful of her life.

"I'm exhausted," the Montreal woman said yesterday, one day after being reunited with Michael.  "I've spent the last 23 months crying myself to sleep."

"At times I feared that I would never see him again but I wouldn't give up trying.  One thing's for sure, I won't be leaving my boy in anyone else's care for a very long time.

Two years ago, during a custody dispute, the boy and his father disappeared from a Nova Scotia commune run by the Northeast Kingdom Community Church, a fundamentalist religious group [aka "The Community" and "Twelve Tribes"] that preaches the corporal punishment of children.

Found Thursday

The two were found Thursday when FBI agents raided a Santa Cruz, Calif. home that serves as a branch of the fundamentalist group.  Edward Dawson, 39, is awaiting extradition to face abduction charges in Canada.

Seymour, a 32-year-old sales representative in the fashion industry, picked the boy up Thursday in California.  She went there earlier in the week after getting advance notice from the FBI that they had found her son.

When she learned Michael was found, she screamed.

"Oh my God!  Oh my God!  My baby's found.  I have to buy him a bed-set," she said.

Michael was taken away by a child welfare worker and driven to his waiting mother.

"Within three minutes he came over, gave me a hug and said he loved me," said Seymour, who added her son loves the religious group.

"He doesn't want anyone saying anything bad about the community.  He's very sensitive about everything now."

Seymour insisted that she harbors no resentment toward her former common-law husband.

"When I spoke with him last night from my home, I asked him if he now understood the sense of loss that I had lived through," Seymour said.  "He said that he did and that he was truly sorry."

Seymour said that she can see no apparent change in her son.

"I know that Michael had a difficult time but he's just a normal kid and I want to focus on the now and live a normal life," she said.

"All I really want is more days like we had today.

"We went shopping for Michael's favorite foods, bought him a ski jacket and just hung out in the park."