San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Maternal Refuge

Three U.S. mothers were arrested on international kidnapping charges this year, provoking varying responses to the U.S. Embassy’s requests to extradite them, that set a precarious legal precedent.

The Public Security Ministry raised eyebrows in July after turning down the U.S. Embassy’s request to extradite Chere Lyn Tomayko, who had fled here from Texas with her daughter in 1997 to escape an allegedly abusive relationship. She eventually married a Tico and had two more children with him, but in 2007, she was arrested on international kidnapping charges and held for 10 months in prison until del Vecchio granted her asylum on grounds of domestic violence.

A Texas state judge openly questioned that decision, saying del Vecchio did not have enough evidence to make such a determination.

The Puntarenas Criminal Court turned down a U.S. extradition request for Nicole Kater, of Humboldt, California, in September, a decision the U.S. Embassy successfully appealed.

A third U.S. mother was arrested in November, and her toddler son was turned over to the boy’s Italian father. Mary Anginette McBeth has applied for refugee status under domestic violence claims as well, and the Sala IV has granted her habeas corpus appeal, citing improper detention.


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