Former Coös County Democrat editor and reporter Melissa Grima during her interview with CNN on a story she worked on in 2008. At left is producer John Scholl and cameraman Vitaly Bokser.
Photo by Art McGrath. (click for larger version)
April 02, 2014LANCASTER–This summer area residents will see some familiar faces as CNN airs a report about a local doctor who allegedly kidnapped her daughter child and hasn't been seen since 2004.
Over the weekend CNN was in the area filming segments of a new show called, "The Hunt," about old, unsolved cases. The case they were filming about was the kidnapping of Mary Nunes by her mother Genevieve Kelley and stepfather Scott Kelley. Genevieve, a local doctor, alleged that her ex-husband, Mark Nunes, had abused their daughter Mary. Police investigated the allegations and found no credible evidence for the allegations but a recording Genevieve made of Mary was considered so disturbing that police began investigating Genevieve.
Eventually the Kelleys moved to Colorado, and then disappeared. A warrant for kidnapping was issued for their arrest in 2006. Mary was 8-years-old when they disappeared. She turned 18 in February.
That was one of the reasons CNN chose this case.
"There's something particularly compelling about this," said producer John Scholl while filming in Lancaster over the weekend. "Most high profile cases we look at involve violent crimes, bank robbers or murderers who go into hiding."
Scholl described the story as a sleeper, that was easy to pass over at first glance but was striking and powerful the closer he looked.
"You normally don't think of parental abductions but in actuality they are quite common," Scholl said. "People can't think a parent can kidnap their own kid—but they can."
The case was so powerful that it stuck with a number of people who stuck with it over the years, including law enforcement and the media. Former Whitefield Police Chief Wayne Rioux was interviewed. Also interviewed this past weekend was former reporter and editor of the Coös County Democrat, Melissa Grima. CNN interviewed her at her old desk at the Democrat.
"I got close to this story," Grima said after the interview. "I spent more time working on it than any other story I've ever done—about a year of research."
Grima said she was struck by the lack of concern many in the area expressed over the disappearance of the Kelleys with Mary. "Most people shrugged. She was with her mom."
Grima said that in examining the court documents she was struck by how nasty a divorce it was. They were only able to communicate with each other by means of a notebook that was sent back and forth with young Mary. Soon Genevieve made accusations of abuse against Mark.
"I don't think she necessarily lied but she convinced herself that something was going on," Grima said. "She was looking for something she could use."
Genevieve took Mary to Spurwink Services in Maine where they told her that some of the issues she was concerned with were normal childhood development, Grima said.
"I got the impression she was shopping for the result she wanted," Grima said.
In the middle of this was Mary. "This was so unfair to her," Grima said. "She has siblings she has never seen."
After police began investigating her because of the video, Genevieve and her family left the area for Colorado, eventually leaving the country. Authorities think they went to a Spanish speaking Third World country and Genevieve could be working as a doctor.
Scholl said one of the hopes of the show is to get the word out there. Perhaps someone knows where Mary and Genevieve are. Perhaps even Mary herself might see her own story.
The show's first season starts in July. The segment about the Kelleys will air sometime over the summer.