Cpl. Kevin Marcipont is not a superstitious man. But he had “a sort of a gut feeling” on the morning of Friday, the 13th of January, when he dropped off his sons, Calvin, then three, and Joey, who was a month shy of his second birthday, at a frame house outside the Canadian Forces base at Petawawa, Ont. For a week he had left the boys there with their mother, his estranged wife Simone Hartmann, 24, who had flown in from her native Germany. He had met her in 1990 on a plane en route to his posting in Lahr, where they had married a year later. When they separated in early 1994, she had disappeared with his sons, then returned to deposit them on his doorstep, protesting that she did not want them after all. Twice she had changed her mind, but when the government closed Lahr and transferred him back home last year, she signed an agreement allowing him to take the boys with him.
After arranging day care on the base, Marcipont won an interim custody order from an Ontario court. Then last December, a military social worker called to announce that Hartmann was in town and wanted to see her sons. He agreed, but only reluctantly: a friend had warned that she planned to abduct them to Germany. In January, he had passed on that warning in a Pembroke custody hearing. On the Friday afternoon when Marcipont arrived to pick up the boys, she
had already left Petawawa. As Marcipont was phoning the police, her Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was lifting off from Toronto’s Pearson airport with Calvin and Joey aboard. “It was just like your whole heart kind of drops,” he says. “I’d told them in court this was going to happen. But she just laughed at the Canadian legal system and walked right out.”
His sons had become two more statistics in the RCMP’s roster of parental abductions. Half of them, like Calvin and Joey, had been spirited to another country. And like others, Marcipont has pinned his hopes on the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction, which requires that children be returned to the country where they had been living, regardless of whether a custody or-
der was in effect. In May, he flew to Lahr, where a nearby family court ordered Hartmann to surrender the boys to him. But she appealed. Last week he learned that he had won that case too, but now must wait for German authorities to inform Hartmann that she must hand over his sons. According to a 1991 Canadian justice department program, the RCMP will arrange to underwrite the cost of his flight to retrieve his sons, but only if they are seized from Hartmann. Already Marcipont has spent almost $8,000 on the case and he is scrambling to come up with the price of a flight. “It just seems every time we get good news, we run into a wall,” he says. “And I’m worried about the boys.”
Marcipont has not seen or talked to his children in two months, and Hartmann, a former barmaid who is on welfare, has had her phone disconnected. Despite the proliferation of child-finding agencies, he found that he could only count on his own dogged detective work. “One thing I have learned,” he says, “is, ‘Do it yourself’.” Indeed, he confesses that, in a fleeting moment of frustration, he was once tempted to resort to a quicker, and not uncommon, course—abducting the children back. “I could go over there myself and take them,” he says. “But that would be putting everything I’ve done so far in jeopardy.”
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