Justin Bush welcomed his daughters home in Smithville on Wednesday after more than a month of worrying and waiting.
The two girls, Morgan, 9, and Taylor, 11, had been overseas since Bush’s ex-wife took them and fled the country in October while facing trial on identify theft and credit card fraud charges in Johnson County, according to court records.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had tracked Samantha C. Elmer, 33, and the girls as far as Vienna.
On Tuesday the girls arrived at Kansas City International Airport and went home the next day with their father and his wife, Stephanie Bush.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Bush said. The family spent Wednesday shopping and decorating the girls’ new bedrooms at the Smithville home Bush and his wife recently moved into. “They’re great. They’re laughing, in good spirits. It’s a great day.”
The search for the girls began Oct. 29 after Bush, 33, made a report to police in Lawrence, where he last knew Elmer and the children to be living. The girls had not been to school in six days and Bush suspected something was wrong.
Elmer had taken the girls to Europe, according to authorities. She did not leave behind any explanation of her flight, but she faced multiple pending court cases.
In Johnson County, Elmer was to face trial on one count of felony identity theft and two counts of felony criminal use of a credit card. She also faced the prospect of losing custody of the girls in an emergency custody hearing requested by Bush.
Douglas County prosecutors charged Elmer, 33, with two counts of aggravated interference with parental custody.