Instead of 2 1/2 years of making memories with her daughter, Melinda Riddle McCoy has spent that time wondering where her teen daughter is and what she is like now.
The last time she saw Emma was July 8, 2015, and “visions from this day are forever burned in my mind,” McCoy said.
About six weeks after that day, she said, her ex-husband took their daughter to Turkey, and since then, she has been engaged in an international battle to get Emma back home. Emma will turn 16 in February.
An indictment unsealed this week in U.S. District Court in London accuses Michael Gregory McCoy of international parental kidnapping.
Never miss a local story.
Melinda McCoy, who grew up in Perry County and now lives in New York, said in an interview that she doesn’t know where her daughter is.
A motion by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Rosenberg that was filed last month asks for certified copies of a sealed arrest warrant issued for Michael McCoy on July 27, the same day he was indicted. Rosenberg’s motion said the copies of the warrant “are needed for the extradition request” for McCoy.
Melinda McCoy said in an interview Tuesday that she has received no word of McCoy’s arrest or whereabouts.
She has shared part of her story through her website, TeamBabyCakes.com, where she says that she learned that her daughter had been taken out of the country only “after they were long gone.”
Melinda McCoy said in the interview that she and her ex-husband were living in different states and shared joint custody at the time he left with Emma.
Her husband’s family, McCoy says on her website, told her that Emma and her father “were on vacation in the Mediterranean, and they did not know his plans or whereabouts, but they were sure Emma and her father would return in October.”
October came and went.
And Christmas gifts lay unwrapped.
Birthdays passed, and McCoy baked cakes that her daughter wasn’t there to eat.
“They never came back,” she said.
She contacted the authorities and began trying to bring Emma home.
“I’ve been working on this every single day for 2 1/2 years,” she said.
Michael McCoy was ordered at least twice to appear in Perry Circuit Court with Emma, but he didn’t show up, and an order for his arrest was issued.
At one point, Melinda McCoy traveled to Turkey alone to go before a judge to try to get Emma back. After she arrived, she learned that her ex had left the country.
“When I came home, I found out he had gone to the Netherlands.”
McCoy accused her ex-husband of being manipulative and emotionally abusive during their marriage.
“This is basically my punishment for not going back to the very unhappy relationship,” she said.
McCoy said she has tried to educate herself about parental alienation: children of divorced couples being manipulated by one parent to be hostile to the other.
She wants to raise awareness of the problem among other parents. She has worked with a psychologist, and she has resources lined up to help Emma.
“It’s not going to be easy for any of us,” she said.
Meanwhile, she imagines how Emma is growing and changing.
Before she left, Emma was into Minecraft and other computer games.
“I have to take what I knew of her at the time and morph it into what I think she would be,” McCoy said.
When Emma returns, McCoy said, her first priority will be reconnecting with her daughter.
“I’m very confident that she will come home,” she said. “It’s been a chess game, but he’s going to run out of moves.”