ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The FBI had been trying to find a New Mexico woman accused of kidnapping her children for 13 years.
Even after she was found out of the country with the kids, it still took six more years to get her back to New Mexico to face a judge.
That day finally came on Monday.
Nearly two decades after Eileen Clark, 57, vanished with her three children, she pleaded not guilty in federal court.
A picture of Eileen once showed up on the FBI’s most wanted list.
Her three children were listed online as missing.
While the father, John Clark, waited in New Mexico.
“I just really want to be part of my kids life,” John told KRQE in 2011.
Eileen is charged with kidnapping her three kids, ages 7, 5 and 2, in 1995.
She disappeared from Placitas the day after John said he wanted a separation or a divorce, according to an FBI agent.
Court documents state one of the children said, Eileen took them to Santa Fe for a couple days before taking a train to San Diego, making their way into Canada and eventually on to London.
Prosecutors said she used a different name, told her kids to do the same and told them their dad didn’t love them anymore.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the FBI learned Eileen was in London after one of her kids told a doctor he had seen his picture on a missing kids website.
After years of court battles over extradition, it wasn’t until Monday that she had her first appearance in federal court in New Mexico, pleading not guilty to kidnapping charges.
“She was in an abusive relationship for many years and she did what she thought she had to do to protect herself and the children,” said David Foster, Eileen’s attorney.
Eileen’s ex-husband, John, said it’s not true and the FBI has never made any mention of abuse on his part.
Meanwhile, prosecutors have already filed paperwork in preparation for another hearing Tuesday morning, requesting Eileen stay behind bars. It says Eileen is a danger to the community and an obvious flight risk.