|Where is Mary Nunes?|
Four years later, police still search for missing girl
A child caught in the crossfire
By Melissa Grima
| (click for larger version)|
WHITEFIELD — In 1996, an ugly divorce followed by a contentious custody battle ultimately left a child caught in the middle. Now the child is missing, and her mother and stepfather have been indicted on non-custodial kidnapping charges by a Coös Grand Jury and are wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service on federal warrants for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. The case was profiled last year on the nationally televised America’s Most Wanted and is also posted on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website.
Mary Nunes was eight years old in 2004 when her family hastily moved from Whitefield to Colorado and then disappeared altogether, failing to produce the child for court ordered evaluations after her mother, Dr. Genevieve (San Martin) Kelley, alleged she had been sexually abused by her non-custodial father, Dr. Mark Nunes, who now lives in Ohio.
The allegations of abuse were reported to Littleton Police in 2004 and were then forwarded to the Grafton County Sheriff’s department for investigation in August of that year. (The matter was sent to the Sheriff because of a conflict of interest with an officer on the Littleton Police Department who had previous dealings with Dr. Kelley and her family.)
Captain Paul Leavitt, an investigator in the Sheriff’s department, said that Dr. Kelley had alleged that the abuse had taken place at a lodging establishment in Littleton. “We tried to establish whether there was any validity to the complaint,” Capt. Leavitt said. After investigating the charge and traveling to Virginia to interview Dr. Nunes at his residence no charges were brought in Grafton Superior Court by the Grafton County Attorney.
“We issued no charge out of this office,” said Assistant Grafton Attorney Lara Soffo.
Captain Leavitt said that in his professional opinion, “There was insufficient evidence to sustain a prosecution.”
The allegations of abuse in Littleton were not the first Dr. Kelley had made. She also alleged that Mary was being abused by her father in court documents filed in October of 2003 when she asked that he no longer be allowed visitation.
Dr. Nunes unequivocally denied the allegations in a court filed response and accused his ex-wife of making the false allegation in order to not only prevent him from having contact with his daughter, but also to damage his career as a pediatrician and occasional expert witness in cases involving child abuse.
Part of the evidence presented to the Grafton County Sheriffs in their investigation and perhaps the most controversial items in this case are two videotapes made by Dr. Kelley of her daughter Mary. She submitted them as evidence of the alleged abuse, but law enforcement officials quickly became concerned after viewing the contents of the tapes. Law enforcement and court officials interviewed for this story refused to detail the contents of the tapes but described them as “horrible,” “bizarre,” “clearly staged,” “troubling,” and “disturbing.” (The family of Scott Kelley disputes this characterization, see accompanying story, Not as simple as it seems)
Whitefield police were notified in October of 2004 that the video showed Mary being abused by her mother. Former Whitefield Police Chief Wayne Rioux said that he believes that the tape was created to try and sway police opinion against Dr. Nunes, but, instead, it raised an alarm and suspicions about Dr. Kelley’s behavior.
When Dr. Kelley made the abuse allegations to police in the summer of 2004 the court had already ordered that she bring Mary to the Spurwink Child Abuse Clinic in Portland, Maine for a forensic family evaluation as a result of her petition to deny her former husband all visitation rights. She objected to the clinic’s involvement, saying she had taken Mary there previously and had no confidence in them, according to an appeal filed as a result of the judge’s order. The court denied the February 2004 appeal and maintained that Mary be evaluated at Spurwink. Mary was brought there only once before the next court date in August of that year, with Dr. Kelley refusing to bring her back for the second evaluation appointment set up by the Clinic. Court documents and law enforcement detail numerous delayed and cancelled appointments with Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF) and Spurwink, highlighting Dr. Kelley’s refusal to comply with the judge’s orders.
After the allegations of abuse dragged on without resolution Dr. Nunes filed in August to regain the visitation rights that had been suspended due to the investigation. He filed for temporary custody on Oct. 4, after Dr. Kelley’s attorney, Robert Foley notified Dr. Nunes that the family had left the state on Oct. 1 and had moved to Aurore, Colo. Both Dr. Kelley and her husband, Scott Kelley, a teacher at Woodsville High School, had quit their jobs and withdrawn Mary from school three weeks earlier. Through her attorney, Dr. Kelley said that the move had been made to find qualified psychiatrists to treat her daughter. Since she had no confidence in Spurwink and could not find any other doctors on the east coast willing to get involved, said her attorney, she had taken her search to Colorado in September, where she found Dr. Ronald Minson and Dr. John Alston who evaluated Mary and diagnosed her with chronic and severe post traumatic stress disorder. The doctors also noted that Mary was progressing in treatment, according to the court filing.
The timing of the move to Colorado coincided with the announcement by the Grafton County Attorney that there was no basis for charges of child abuse against Dr. Nunes.
It also coincided with the filing of the Spurwink Clinic’s Psychosocial Evidentiary Assessment. After only the single session with Mary, the clinic wrote a recommendation, “that Mary enter an inpatient diagnostic center for psychiatric and psychological testing so her behavior could be observed apart from her mother.” Court documents note that the Clinic commented on the videotapes Dr. Kelley had made, saying they were “shocked and horrified by the brutal and systemic manner in which they depicted parental alienation.” They went on to call the interaction between mother and daughter “brainwashing” as they described the “bizarre treatment” of the child.
After viewing the videotapes, Dr. Nunes wrote to his attorney on August 11, 2004 that, “The tapes in general reflect the holocaust Gen has wrought in Mary’s life.” He described seeing the eight-year-old Mary on the tapes being “encouraged” and “condoned” by her mother to participate in “infantile” behavior and being chased around the house by her mother while she (Mary) was nude.
On Oct. 22, 2004, superior court Judge Harold W. Perkins ordered that Dr. Kelley could retain custody and be allowed to return to Colorado with Mary as long as she produced her 24 hours prior to the next court-ordered Spurwink evaluation, where she would be placed in Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) custody to be delivered to the inpatient assessment. After that order Mary and her family disappeared. She was not brought back for the court-ordered evaluation. Additionally, Dr. Kelley’s lawyer was unable to locate her, and an investigation found that by the end of November Mary had not attended her last known school in over a month and mail to the Colorado home was returned as undeliverable.
On Dec. 1, 2004, a court order signed by Judge Steven M. Houran gave Dr. Nunes both legal and physical custody of Mary specifically for the purpose of returning her to New Hampshire, since the comprehensive evaluation for abuse had still not been completed. Once Mary is located, the order further states, DCYF will be awarded physical placement and legal supervision of Mary in order that she can be placed in therapeutic foster care.
Mary’s mental health issues are not the only concern, according to authorities. She has also been diagnosed with arterial venous malformation (AVM) – an abnormal collection of blood vessels and vascular formations that cause migraines, leg weakness, and complications that require specialized medical treatment and observation.
The family may be traveling and doing mission work in Central and South America or Canada, according to the case profile on the television show America’s Most Wanted. It is believed that Dr. Kelley could be practicing medicine in a Spanish-speaking nation as she not only traveled extensively while in the Air Force, but also speaks fluent Spanish.
Anyone with information in the case should call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). The call can be made anonymously.
From acrimony to abduction
By Melissa Grima
Messy divorces certainly aren’t unheard of. Those that escalate to the point where one parent abducts the child, however, are an illustration of “messy” in the extreme.
While it may be considered an extreme step, family abduction is not uncommon. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in 1990 there were 4,600 children abducted by non-family members. That number pales in comparison with the 354,100 children taken just two years earlier, in 1988, by members of their own family. In 1999 family abductions accounted for 203,990 missing children.
The DOJ study went on to note that family abductions are part of a larger problem since it is possible for a child to have been unlawfully removed from custody by a family member, but the child’s whereabouts are still fully known. In that way they are often abducted but not missing.
The case of Mary Nunes, the Whitefield child taken by her mother in 2004, falls into a grey area between abducted and missing, leaving Mary a child caught in the middle – in more ways than one. Local police and federal investigators say they believe that maternal family members and friends in New Hampshire know the whereabouts of young Mary, her mother Dr. Genevieve (San Martin) Kelley and stepfather Scott Kelley, but have been uncooperative with authorities. Meanwhile, to her father, Dr. Mark Nunes of Licking County, Ohio, and the courts, Mary is nothing less than missing and in danger.
The crisis of family abduction
In 1991, Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children published a report on what he termed “the crisis of family abductions.” Mr. Allen estimated that 70,000 to 75,000 children are seriously harmed annually as a result of parental kidnapping.
In the report he takes society to task for believing that just because a child has been abducted by a parent there is no risk or seriousness to the situation. “Far too frequently we hear parental kidnapping is not a law-enforcement problem, it is a civil problem, domestic relations, something lawyers should work out. The kid is with a parent how bad can it be?” Mr. Allen writes.
In his opinion, plenty bad. He research refers to a 1990 NISMART (National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children) study that details serious mental harm to 16 percent (or 56,000) of the children abducted by parents. Another eight percent (28,000 children) were harmed physically or victims of sexual abuse while with the abducting parent.
As a side-note to the domestic cases, Mr. Allen also said that the State Department estimates that about 1,000 children are taken abroad by non-custodial parents each year as was the case with Mary. Federal Marshals believe that Mary was taken out of the country by her mother and stepfather. Dr. Kelley is well traveled and bilingual, having served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force. She is fluent in Spanish.
The theories on what motivates a parent to abduct their child varies between researchers, but a 2002 NISMART study found that the majority of the cases, 82 percent, involved a parent looking to affect custody permanently.
While the study performed by the DOJ found fathers are twice as likely as mothers to abduct their children, an article in the March 2001 Juvenile Justice Bulletin says that the risk of maternal abduction increases when there is a belief that abuse has occurred and there are friends and family members who support the concerns and aide in the act (of abduction). The behavior profile reads as if it were pulled from the pages of the legal files and investigation notes in the Nunes kidnapping.
“These abducting parents feel that the authorities have not taken them seriously or properly investigated the allegations. Repeated allegations increase the hostility and distrust between the parents. Parents who have the fixed belief that the abuse has occurred — and will continue to occur — then ‘rescue’ the child, often with the help of supporters who concur with their beliefs, justify their actions, and often help with the abduction and concealment…Often, however, the allegation of sexual abuse by a father or stepfather that motivates a mother to abduct her child is unsubstantiated. In these cases, the abduction can psychologically harm the child and the other parent, possibly leaving their relationship in serious need of repair.”
A long look for abuse
Dr. Mark Nunes said that during the course of the kidnapping investigation it was revealed that Dr. Kelley began looking into abuse allegations in 2001 when she first brought Mary to the Spurwink Child Abuse Clinic in Portland, Maine without notifying her primary physician, or the court appointed Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) or Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF). The court appointed GAL, Abbie Teachout, confirmed that she was not notified by Dr. Kelley of the sexual abuse evaluation. “I didn’t know she had been brought to Spurwink and I was involved (in the custody issues) at that time,” Ms. Teachout said.
Dr. Nunes also said that Mary had been taken for a total of seven sexual abuse evaluations by her mother from 2000 to 2004, including the court ordered evaluation at Spurwink shortly before her disappearance in 2004. In addition to accusations of neglect and abuse perpetrated against Mary, he has also been accused in divorce documents of physically abusing Dr. Kelley, Dr. Nunes said. “I think the intent was that I would disappear from Mary’s life forever,” he explained.
It was difficult both personally and professionally, said Dr. Nunes, to hold his ground knowing another accusation could be right around the corner. He said that he had no recourse but to wait and rely on the truth. “Each time it was like waiting for the next shoe to drop,” he said.
Police from a number of local departments said it is not uncommon to see reports of abuse — which they admitted are often used as leverage — during acrimonious divorces. Whitefield Police Chief Bill Colborn said his department often receives allegations of abuse and neglect made by parents involved in divorce or custody proceedings that later turn out to be false. He said that every allegation is considered valid and investigated since there is no way of knowing in advance if the claim is legitimate or being used as a tool by a slighted party.
A parent alienated
Dr. Nunes believes that his relationship with his daughter is being seriously harmed as a result of the abduction and said that the allegations of abuse may have started as a strategy to get him to abandon his rights to visit his daughter. He said that the allegations of abuse did not begin until he pressed forward through the acrimony of divorce to fight for visitation. Dr. Nunes explained that he believes his ex-wife’s intention was always to make things as difficult as possible with the hope that he would abandon his relationship with his daughter. “That was Genevieve’s plan and intention all along,” he said.
He said that the relationship between the divorced couple was so strained that there was no direct communication between himself and Dr. Kelley and the pair sent a notebook back and forth with Mary as their only form of conversation. “There’s no way you can raise a healthy child in that kind of environment,” he said.
While the 2001 DOJ article profiles parents consumed by suspicion, the report authored by Mr. Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points to research by Geoffrey Greif and Rebecca Hegar in their 1993 book “When Parents Kidnap: The Families Behind the Headlines”. Their work found that in most cases the left behind parent believes the abducting parent was motivated not by concern, but by revenge and anger.
This is the category into which Dr. Nunes and his wife Nancy fall. They believe that removing Mary from his life was always the goal and when it could not be achieved through legal methods Dr. Kelley found other ways. What led Dr. Nunes to this theory, he said, was a conversation he had with Dr. Kelley’s grandmother during their marriage.
Dr. Nunes said that he had stayed with Dr. Kelley’s grandmother in New York while there on business a few years into their marriage and had learned that his wife had a sister he never knew about. Dr. Nunes said that he was told that Dr. Kelley’s father, George San Martin, had fathered the child from a prior marriage that was later annulled. According to the story, Mr. San Martin sent child support, but did not maintain a relationship with his firstborn as he started a new family with his wife Regina and daughter Genevieve. During his own divorce, Dr. Nunes said this story came back to him along with some shocking realizations. “I understood I was supposed to play George’s role (by relinquishing his relationship with Mary),” he said. “I couldn’t personally do that. When I didn’t, the sexual abuse allegations came.”
Since the divorce, Dr. Nunes has remarried and has two more children, both of whom Mary had a relationship with, he said. Not only has Dr. Nunes been deprived of a relationship with Mary due to her disappearance, but her seven-year-old brother Gabriel and four-year-old sister Madeline are without their big sister, he said. Dr. Nunes explained that the children enjoyed spending time together on their scheduled visits and, although Mary had only met Madeline twice before her disappearance, Mary had been enamored of the then-infant and told her father she was worried the younger girl would be teased at school because she was born with special needs.
Dr. Nunes said that his personal devastation at the loss of his daughter is trumped by the fear he has for her safety and well-being. He added that the extended family of all those involved also suffer in this situation from the absence of Dr. Kelley, Mr. Kelley and Mary at holidays and special occasions and just in general.
“I don’t know if Mary’s alive,” he said. He further questioned her “quality of life, schooling, and ability to have a childhood,” while on the run with her mother and stepfather. “It’s overwhelming,” he said.
Dr. Nunes said he has no idea what Mary has actually been told by her mother, but says it is likely she’s been told her family is dead. He explained that Mary was around seven- years-old when his family saw her last and although he had moved from Ocean Springs, Miss. to Virginia, Mary had not visited him there. She remembered “Daddy’s blue house,” he said, located in a town that had gotten caught in the eye of Hurricane Katrina. “I believe Mary’s been told we all died in Hurricane Katrina,” he said. “There’s hope and horror in that thought.”
Not as simple as it seems
By Melissa Grima
While law enforcement seems convinced that local doctor Genevieve Kelley, and her husband Scott, a special education teacher at Woodsville High School, took off with Mary Nunes to protect themselves from prosecution, those who knew the couple say their only motivation was to protect a vulnerable child. The pair took Dr. Kelley’s daughter Mary and disappeared late in 2004, a move that, despite the so-called justification, baffled their families and the small communities in which they worked.
The parents of Dr. Kelley, George and Regina San Martin of Whitefield, said through their attorney John McKinnon of Campton, that they were devastated by the loss of their only daughter and granddaughter. “It’s a very, very sad story,” Mr. McKinnon said. He said that Mr. and Mrs. San Martin have no idea where their daughter is and are aged and have health issues, making this an especially difficult situation.
Mr. McKinnon called the entire case “wrong on so many levels,” and said that although he had never met Dr. Kelley he believed that she had left in panic because she believed that the sexual abuse evaluations she had requested and the court had ordered were not being performed properly. Because he had offered to work pro-bono on behalf of the San Martins only after they claimed they had been harassed and threatened by US Marshals, Mr. McKinnon explained he had limited information on the possible motives for the family to flee.
While the San Martins were not able to provide insight as to how or why things escalated to the point where the Kelleys felt they had to go into hiding with the child, Mr. Kelley’s family offered more explanation. “Something drastic had to happen in their lives,” said Mike Kelley, Principal of Profile School and Scott’s brother. “We think that they left in order to keep Mary safe,” he said.
Mike Kelley said that his family, which includes his mother and two sisters, as well as himself and Scott, were very close. The Kelley family had a history of gathering on a regular basis for cookouts, holidays, and even for an annual memorial golf tournament in honor of their father. The only reason he could fathom his brother leaving with no word and no contact in the four years he’s been gone, is for a righteous cause, he explained. “There’s no possible way he would ever abandon his family unless it was a drastic thing,” he said.
Pat Kezerian of Littleton, a lifetime friend of Scott Kelley’s agreed with Mike Kelley’s assessment. Mr. Kezerian characterized Scott as always being the responsible one in their group of several friends who stayed close long after high school.
Both men agreed that something happened to change Mary about a year before Genevieve and Scott Kelley disappeared with her, which led them to fear for her safety. Mike Kelley characterized the two as doting parents whose purpose in life was to care for Mary. “They were unbelievably responsive parents — their whole life revolved around her,” he explained.
Their responsive nature was truly tested when Mary’s behavior changed drastically after returning from a visit with her non-custodial father (at the time) Dr. Mark Nunes late in 2003, Mike Kelley said. He confirmed that her behavior was the same as what had been documented on the video tapes Scott and Dr. Kelley had made and submitted to the police — the seven-year-old running naked through the house having screaming fits, hiding in closed spaces and urinating and defecating on the floor. “The tape was an accurate picture of what they were dealing with,” he said.
Mike Kelley also explained that he was told by his brother that he and Dr. Kelley were instructed to make the tape by a mental health professional who had been treating Mary for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He said that to the best of his knowledge, throughout 2004 Mary had been going to Concord weekly for counseling after being diagnosed.
Mike Kelley said that due to the change in behavior he had no trouble believing Mary had been molested. “Something happened to throw her over the edge,” he said.
Looking back on that year between the initial allegations of abuse against Dr. Nunes and the abduction of Mary, Mike Kelley and Mr. Kezerian recalled Scott and Dr. Kelley’s hints that things were not going well. Mike Kelley remembered that Dr. Kelley had commented once that if her ex-husband was ever allowed contact with Mary again they would leave.
Mr. Kezerian, who works as the Assistant Postmaster in Littleton, said he believed Scott Kelley and his wife were preparing for the worst. Nearly 10 months before their disappearance, the pair ordered passports. “I don’t think they were planning it all along, but I think they had a ‘Plan B’ in case it didn’t go their way,” he explained.
Scott Kelley was very private, Mr. Kezerian said, but occasionally shared his concerns for Mary. He remembers one particular gathering in 2004 where after being asked ‘How’s it going?’ Scott Kelley responded with “You wouldn’t believe how bad my life is.” Mr. Kezerian said this comment was a direct reference to the struggles Scott Kelley was having with Mary’s odd behavior. He went on to say that Scott Kelley later told him that he truly believed that Mary had been molested by her father and related the challenges that he and Dr. Kelley had worked through for months to try and heal her emotionally.
Mr. Kezerian said he believed the panic came into play, however, when Dr. Nunes requested that he be granted unsupervised visitation with Mary in a filing with Coös Superior Court. (Dr. Nunes had, in fact, petitioned for supervised visits.) Dr. And Mr. Kelley had further become disheartened, Mr. Kezerian said, when they were accused of coaching the child prior to an interview with social services. “I think they may have lost a little faith,” he said.
The threat of Dr. Nunes being allowed to again see Mary and the alleged change from support to accusation by the court and social services is what both men credit with the drastic steps taken. “I think they were so scared they felt they had no other alternative,” Mike Kelley said. “My brother was a pretty meek guy — he didn’t make changes,” he explained, noting how incredibly out of character it seemed to him for two well-respected professionals with close family ties and ties to the community to decide to run away.
“We all have no doubt that he believes what he’s doing is right,” said Mr. Kezerian, adding that he was sure that Scott’s only goal would be to protect Mary. “We totally believe that’s the case,” he said speaking for himself and the rest of Scott Kelley’s friends.
Despite providing possible theories for the disappearance of Scott and Dr. Kelley as well as young Mary, Mike Kelley said he and his family have been baffled by the extreme step. Both he and Mr. Kezerian said that none of Scott Kelley’s friends or family have seen or heard from him, nor do they know where he is. “The whole thing for us is a tragedy,” Mr. Kelley said. “We’ve been devastated by it. My mother’s lost a son and we’ve lost a brother.”
Mr. Kezerian said that the close group of friends that included Scott Kelley has also mourned his loss. The men gather annually at the cemetery to remember one of their number who committed suicide a number of years ago, and now at the meeting they remember Scott as well.
By Melissa Grima
John McKinnon of Campton, an attorney working pro-bono for George and Regina San Martin, the parents of Dr. Genevieve Kelley, said he questions the impartiality of the Spurwink Child Abuse Clinic’s evaluation of Mary Nunes.
The Spurwink Clinic was suggested by Dr. Mark Nunes, Mary’s father and the man accused of molesting her and was accepted by the court, despite objections by Dr. Kelley that she had no faith in the Maine clinic. According to the court-filed objection, Dr. Kelley said she had taken Mary to Spurwink for a sexual abuse evaluation previously — a fact not disclosed prior to this filing in February of 2004 — and they had found no evidence of abuse.
Attorney McKinnon said that he believes the involvement of the Spurwink Clinic stacked the deck against Dr. Kelley. He said that his independent research, which began long after Dr. Kelley and her husband Scott absconded with Mary, showed that Dr. Larry Ricci, who heads the child abuse evaluation clinic at Spurwink, was well known to Dr. Nunes. Their association, he said, which was not disclosed to the court, made the evaluation tilt in Dr. Nunes favor. “I think that’s where this case got derailed,” he said.
Dr. Nunes disputes the theory that he has a close relationship with Dr. Ricci. He said the two met once at a lecture reception in California. Dr. Ricci had attended the talk that Dr. Nunes, a child abuse expert himself, had given on genetic diagnoses that can be confused with abuse. Dr. Nunes said the men spoke briefly in passing at the reception and beyond that he had no contact or communication with Dr. Ricci.
He said that he had suggested evaluation at Spurwink because they have an international reputation for excellence in diagnosing and treating abused children.
Dr. Nunes explained that he believes that Attorney McKinnon may be confusing Dr. Ricci with Dr. Kent Hymel. Dr. Hymel, who was working in Northern Virginia during 2004, was previously Dr. Nunes’ mentor and supervisor both during his military service and later at a hospital in Virginia. Within the past year Dr. Hymel has moved north and is now a child abuse researcher and physician at Dartmouth College in Hanover.
Dr. Hymel was not involved in any aspect of Mary’s evaluation, Dr. Nunes said.
A child, a videotape, a family on the run
By Melissa Grima
|Genevieve Kelly (click for larger version)|
Mary Nunes, age 12, is the only New Hampshire child listed as missing on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) website. Four others from New Hampshire, who went missing between 1980 and 2001, are now over the age of 22. The search for Mary Nunes began shortly before she was officially declared missing at age eight.
Law enforcement officials in Whitefield were alerted that the family of Dr. Genevieve (San Martin) Kelley, Scott Kelley and Mary Nunes was a flight risk, but that was after they had already packed up and moved across the country to Colorado.
Shawn White, formerly a sergeant with the Whitefield Police, said that according to police logs from 2004, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Department had notified Whitefield Police of possible issues in the Kelley home. The alert came after the Sheriff’s Department reviewed the home video tapes made by Dr. Kelley and her husband, Mr. Kelley, that had been submitted to the Grafton County investigators as their alleged proof that Mary Nunes had been sexually abused by her non-custodial father, Dr. Mark Nunes.
Law enforcement and social service agencies had a very different take on these videos. They did not believe they showed that Mary had been abused by her father. Instead, the tapes pointed to unusual behaviors in the Kelley household. All law enforcement personnel interviewed in the case, including local police, county investigators and attorneys as well as the US Marshals Service, said that the tapes were alarming. As a result they re-directed their investigations toward Dr. and Mr. Kelley and not at Dr. Nunes.
Sgt. White said that Whitefield Police were contacted on October 1, 2004 by Assistant Grafton County Attorney Lara Soffo. He said that, according to the log, they were alerted to the existence of the tapes, which were made in Whitefield, and a possible involvement by Dr. Kelley in inappropriate conduct with her child. He said that Atty. Soffo was also concerned that the family would flee the area. He said that he remembers conversations with the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and Atty. Soffo that highlighted their concerns about the Kelley family leaving the area once they were contacted as part of the investigation with a request to interview Mary about the tapes.
The Whitefield Police then began conducting routine drive-bys of the Kelley residence on Spencer Road, only to find that the family had already moved. Dr. Nunes had called Ms. Soffo within days of their fleeing and told her he had discovered that the family had moved to Colorado. He had been notified by Dr. San Martin’s attorney Robert Foley, that both she and Mr. Kelley had left their jobs, pulled Mary out of school three weeks earlier and moved the family to Aurore, Colo.
While the Kelleys asserted that the move was to find more qualified mental health professionals to evaluate Mary, caseworkers at DCYF told Whitefield Police that they believed the move was a deliberate attempt to evade investigation.
Former Whitefield Police Chief Wayne Rioux, who also had experience as the Connecticut State Police Amber Alert Coordinator and Clearing House Manager for the state with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), said that he didn’t buy the Kelleys’ story either. Chief Rioux said that he believes Dr. Kelley had thought the tapes would sway law enforcement against her ex-husband and when they did not she decided to leave. He added that Dr. San Martin had a history of making numerous allegations against her former husband, but never followed through with doctors — including the court ordered child abuse evaluation. “If you had nothing to hide, why wouldn’t you bring your daughter to get the help she needs,” he said.
Through the divorce and custody battle, Dr. Kelley appeared to have the upper hand, but local opinion began to support Dr. Nunes after law enforcement officials reviewed the video tapes. “She (Dr. Kelley) was able to persuade the courts and child welfare (agency) people that Mark was an extremely dangerous individual,” US Deputy Marshal William Marr said. “I think Genevieve successfully diverted a lot of attention on Mark,” Deputy Marshal Ken Nunes (no relation) added, noting that although Dr. Nunes had raised concerns about Mary’s welfare in court documents and to law enforcement no one took his concerns seriously until the tape came to light. Deputy Marr and Deputy Nunes are both assigned to investigate Mary’s case, with Deputy Marr working out of the Maine District Office and Deputy Nunes working out of the New Hampshire District Office in Concord.
Although the Kelley family had custody of Mary when they moved out of New Hampshire, the ongoing court proceedings and open investigation took priority. Dr. Kelley was ordered by Coös Superior Court on October 22, 2004 to produce Mary for the court ordered sexual abuse evaluation brought on by Dr. Kelley’s own allegation that Dr. Nunes had abused his daughter. After the court order, law enforcement officials say, the Kelley family dropped off the radar.
Mail was returned to Atty. Foley from the family’s Colorado address. The court was told on November 30 that Mary’s school had reported that she had been absent for a month, and Atty. Foley admitted that he had not had contact with Dr. San Martin and could not locate her.
The following day, Judge Steven Houran awarded Dr. Nunes legal and physical custody of Mary, stipulating that it was solely for the purpose of locating the child and turning her over to the state for the needed evaluations. Judge Houran ordered that once she is found, physical placement and legal supervision will be given to DCYF with further hearings scheduled after the court-ordered evaluations are complete.
On December 16, Dr. Kelley was found in contempt in Coös Superior Court for failing to supply her new address in an ongoing case. The judge also wrote that she repeatedly, intentionally and unwarrantedly interfered with the visitation and custodial rights of Dr. Nunes, and issued a civil arrest warrant for Dr. Kelley.
US Marshals became involved in the search in 2006 and the case was highlighted on America’s Most Wanted in August 2007 — no small feat, Deputy Marr said, since the television show has a standing policy against getting involved with parental abductions. He said that the producers of the show were swayed by the danger posed by Mary’s extensive health issues and the disturbing home video tapes.
In a letter to the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) community posted on the website EMSvillage.com, Deputy Marr details the danger he believes Mary is in. “In January 2004, Nunes was immediately hospitalized following a medical evaluation by a local emergency room physician and a pediatric neurologist. She was diagnosed with a neurological illness that caused her to experience ‘reoccurring complicated migraine episodes with accompanying weakness in both legs.’ The treating pediatric neurologist was unable to conduct or complete subsequent follow-up evaluations due to Nunes' abduction.
“Due to the serious nature of this illness and the need for immediate specialized medical care and hospitalization, it is highly possible that EMS providers could have already encountered Mary Nunes and her abductors, or may do so in the future. EMS providers working along the international borders and in Spanish-speaking countries or communities should be aware that Genevieve Kelley speaks fluent Spanish.”
A summary posted on the television show’s website notes that a horse could be the key to finding the family. Mary has ridden since the age of five, and Dr. San Martin also rides. While living in Whitefield, they owned a horse named Nicky II and a pony named Snippy, which law enforcement officials believe they took with them. Nicky is a male horse, dark bay with a light brown muzzle and star markings. The possibility that the horses are with the family has led the owner of an online stolen horse network, www.netposse.com, to put the word out to the equestrian community to be on the lookout, making this truly a widespread search for Mary Nunes.
The search for Mary Nunes
By Melissa Grima
By December 2004, law enforcement officials were convinced that Dr. Genevieve Kelley and her husband Scott Kelley had taken off with her daughter Mary Nunes to avoid prosecution, and Dr. Mark Nunes, the child’s father, who now had custody, filed a missing persons report.
Former Whitefield Police Sergeant Shawn White said that when he questioned George and Regina San Martin, Dr. Kelley’s parents, about their daughter’s disappearance, he met with harsh resistance. He said that they told him they had not seen or heard from their daughter in a number of weeks and became very defensive as he pushed them on her whereabouts. Mrs. San Martin was given power of attorney to dispose of her daughter’s home and personal items, he said. Dr. Kelley had lived next door to her parents. Both parents told police that they would rather go to jail themselves than tell the police where their daughter and her family are, he explained.
Former Whitefield Police Chief Wayne Rioux said that their actions had surprised him. “I found it strange that it was never about their granddaughter, it was always about their daughter,” he said of the San Martins’ comments after questioning. He said that the San Martins had also been outraged when the posters regarding their “missing” granddaughter were posted locally and Mary was listed with the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Members of Mr. Kelley’s family had also sent angry letters to the police about these efforts to locate Mary, Chief Rioux said.
Local police continued to question the family and associates of Dr. Kelley and Mr. Kelley and in July 2005, a Coös Grand Jury indicted Dr. Kelley and Mr. Kelley for custodial interference. Chief Rioux said that when he resigned from Whitefield Police later that summer he advised Coös County Attorney Keith Clouatre to look into getting federal law enforcement involved with the case.
Meanwhile, Whitefield Police executed a search warrant on the Whitefield home of Mr. and Mrs. San Martin. Sgt. White said that no documentation was found that would reveal where Dr. Kelley and her family had gone. He did explain that he found it odd, however, that the San Martins had years worth of utility bills stored, but all of the phone bills were gone. He said he also observed that Mrs. San Martin had several thousand dollars worth of Travelers Cheques in her purse, including two envelopes containing numerous $50 Cheques and one envelope full of $20s. She explained that she used them to pay her bills, he said.
Sgt. White said that, during the search, Mrs. San Martin had asked him if her daughter was stopped in Texas if she would be brought back to New Hampshire. He advised her that she would. He also said that evidence was found on their computer that the San Martins were researching real estate in Texas, and that many of their personal items were boxed up. (Mr. and Mrs. San Martin still live in Whitefield.)
The federal authorities became part of the investigation in February of 2006, when the case was referred to the US Marshals Service. “From that point we basically had to work backwards,” said Deputy Kenneth Nunes, the lead investigator on the case (no relation to Dr. Nunes). A federal judge issued warrants for both Dr. and Mr. Kelley on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and kidnapping.
Deputy Nunes said that his office knows that the family left the United States and landed in a foreign country, but are continuing to search for them. He did not disclose which country.
“With an international kidnapping, time is of the essence,” he said, which leaves the Marshals Service trailing in this race since the Kelley family had been gone for more than a year when they became involved in the investigation.
Their first step was to question the families and friends — as the local police before them had done. Marshal Nunes said that he was surprised at what he found. “I think we had truthful interviews with the Kelley family,” he said. Mr. and Mrs. San Martin were not as accommodating, however. He explained that Dr. Kelley’s parents refused to cooperate with the investigation and others in the community also were not helpful. Deputy Nunes attributed the resistance of many of the people he talked with to the fact that this is a family abduction. “The child is with her mother so what’s the problem?” is a question they hear all the time, he said. “Even though it’s parental kidnapping, it’s still kidnapping,” Marshal Nunes added.
Another stumbling block, explained Deputy Nunes and fellow investigator Deputy William Marr, is that Dr. Kelley made sure to get the word out that she believed her ex-husband is dangerous. She not only told friends, but made many allegations in court and to law enforcement officials that her former husband is abusive. In addition, her reputation as a respected local physician in the Whitefield and Littleton communities painted an unknown Mr. Nunes as the less credible party throughout the acrimonious divorce, custody dispute and eventual child abuse investigation. “Things are not really as they seem to be,” Deputy Marr said, a statement he believes friends of the Kelleys should take to heart.
The Deputies credited Grafton County Sheriff’s Capt. Paul Leavitt, and Chief Rioux with being some of the first in law enforcement to finally see that Dr. Nunes may not have been the “bad guy” he was made out to be.
The Deputies believe that the fact that Dr. Kelley was a local resident and Dr. Nunes was not also played a large part in hampering their investigation. As federal agents, they also felt the sting of the insular North Country culture. “It was very hard for us to work in the North Country,” Deputy Nunes said. “Even people working in Concord (where he is based) are looked at as outsiders,” he said. The pair said that in the course of their investigation they met with “an astronomical amount of resistance.” They were left with “a lot of unanswered questions on every front,” Deputy Nunes said.
Their main objective, said the Deputies, is to find Mary and bring her back and leave the rest up to the courts to figure out. This is a high priority case, they said, and despite some public opinion that Dr. and Mr. Kelley should not be charged with kidnapping, since they had court-ordered custody of Mary at the time of the disappearance, that is not the law. Deputy Nunes said that the Child Protection Act allows for charges to be brought, even if the pair has not been indicted for a crime at the time of flight, if they fled to avoid an indictment. “Our goal is to find Mary — we’re not here to judge Genevieve,” Deputy Nunes said. “Let the courts play it out.”
The Kelley family could be traveling in poor areas of Spanish-speaking countries, say the Deputies. They also believe the family could be traveling with a toddler since Dr. Kelley announced in court late in 2004 that she was pregnant.
Deputy Nunes urges anyone with information to call the US Marshals Service with information and to feel secure that they can do so anonymously. Even historical information from the past four years could help in the investigation, he said. Anyone who has information about the disappearance of Mary Nunes can call 1-800-THE LOST, 1-800 CRIME TV, or the US Marshals NH District
Websites that detail the case of Mary Nunes
Stolen Horse International
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
America’s Most Wanted
Crime Scene Blog
The Charley Project
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