TORONTO – A tearful mother told parents of missing children they should never give up hope as she thanked the Missing Children Society of Canada for its part in reuniting her with the son she hasn’t seen in 31 years.
Lyneth Mann-Lewis had reported her 21-month-old son Jermaine as missing in June 1987 after his father, Allan Mann Jr. failed to return the boy to his Ontario home from a court-ordered weekend visitation. Days after reporting to police, she also reached out to the Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) for help.
On Oct. 23, 2018 Amanda Pick, MCSC chief executive officer, and MCSC investigator Ted Davis, told Mann-Lewis that Jermaine had been located. She then travelled with them to Connecticut to be reunited with her son.
“It has been a long and hard journey since my son was abducted,” Mann-Lewis told media at Toronto Police headquarters Monday, Oct. 29.
“I have endured many hard days, some which are extremely difficult to describe. Today, with utmost happiness, I am here to share with you the end of a journey. The constant worrying is finally over.”
Mann-Lewis was joined by Pick, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Det.-Sgt. Wayne Banks of the Organized Crime Enforcement Squad, where she told media about the remarkable turn in her life, from first learning Jermaine was located, to meeting him again only days later.
“Words couldn’t express what I felt. The words ‘your son is alive, we found him’, that is breathtaking, just knowing for 31 long years, he’s alive.”
And she described the moment mother and son were reunited. “I grabbed him and I squeezed his head. I wanted to feel he was real. I touched him. I said ‘oh my god, my baby.’ ” She said her son hugged and kissed her “and we held there for a long time.”
Allan Mann Jr. was arrested Friday Oct. 26, 2018 in Vernon, Conn., where he faces numerous charges, including making false statements to U.S. housing authorities. He appeared in court briefly that day and was remanded in custody.
Banks described a “life of lies” that Allan and Jermaine Mann lived for the past three decades. Banks told the news conference that in 1987 Allan Mann fled illegally to the U.S. “where he obtained false documents and took on an assumed name for that of himself and his son.”
Banks said Jermaine had been told his mother died shortly after birth. Police say Mann and his son had lived in the Bronx and North Carolina before settling in Connecticut about two decades ago. Police did not release the assumed names in order to protect the son who was named Jermaine at birth and who is now 33.
Davis retired from the Calgary Police Service after 25 years and went on to work with MCSC for another 23, most of which included his investigation of the Mann case.
There were many roadblocks in the search for Jermaine Mann, but then Davis met some U.S. marshals at a fugitive conference in 2016 and told them about the case. The marshals then worked with Davis and Toronto police and the search for Allan Mann continued in the U.S.
Much credit was given to Davis for his tireless work on the case. Pick said he made a promise “to Lyneth and her family that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Jermaine was brought home. And he did.”
The investigation involved approximately 400 interviews and at least 200 tips from the public, all of which were taken seriously and investigated, Pick said, reading a statement from Davis.
Mann-Lewis also thanked Davis, who she said encouraged her to never give up hope. “I will forever be grateful to him for everything he has done.”
Chief Saunders expressed his appreciation that Toronto police and the U.S. Marshals were able to work together to achieve such a positive result.
Technology played a critical role in the identification of Allan Mann. On Aug. 24, 2016 the U.S Marshals reached out to the Fugitive Squad with an image of someone they thought was Mann and facial recognition technology was used to compare photos from 1987 with the recent image. A positive identification was made.
“Through trans-border co-operation, including the use of technology, U.S Marshals positively identified Allan Mann and his son,” Saunders said, adding that Mann will face an abduction charge when he’s eventually extradited to Canada.
In describing the investigation, Pick spoke emotionally about the relationship between MCSC and Lyneth Mann-Lewis and her family.
“I just want to thank Lyneth. I want to thank her family. You inspire us,” she said. “When we talk about hope, there is no better example of a family who has a missing child. Every single day they take one step and put it in front of the other. Hope is what drives all of the police services and individuals who search relentlessly and hope drives our organization as well.”
Mann-Lewis urged people to support the Missing Children Society of Canada so it could continue working to help people with missing children. And she spoke to those families.
“I want to encourage other families with missing children and loved ones not to ever, ever give up hope of finding them. I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said.
“But be patient, be strong and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”
The Missing Children Society of Canada (MCSC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping find missing children, both in active and ongoing cases. The organization, which has been operating for more than 30 years, works directly with families and law enforcement, through its own investigators and cutting-edge technology developed specifically for the task.
MCSC helps create public awareness of missing children cases, provides families with emotional support through the search and recovery process and ensures that all programs are free, so everyone receives help equally.