Saturday, September 13, 2003

Wisconsin boy missing over a year found in Ohio

The Associated Press

A 4-year-old Wisconsin boy missing for more than a year was found safe in northeast Ohio with his fugitive father, the FBI said Friday.

Mark Samples, 40, was arrested Friday afternoon by county and federal officers at a home in East Rochester, Ohio, 32 miles southwest of Youngstown. Christopher Samples was fine, agents said.

Investigators think the father, a former military hero, took Christopher while awaiting trial on charges that he robbed a credit union in Red Wing, Minn.

Samples, from Hager City, Wis., will be jailed in Youngstown pending an arraignment Monday, said the FBI's Cleveland office.

The boy's mother, Jennifer Bjork, said at a news conference in Pepin, Wis., that she was relieved and in shock. "It's over. It's over. I'm now complete," she said. "I cried for hours ... and I still don't believe it. I won't believe it until I have him in my arms tonight."

Bjork shared custody with Samples, her estranged husband, when he took Christopher for a supposed weekend visit in June 2002. He called to tell Bjork they were going on a camping trip and refused to bring the boy home.

Samples was then free on $25,000 bond while awaiting trial in the robbery charges.

Samples was awarded the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Heroism in 1987 for lifesaving bravery aboard the USS Stark after it was hit by Iraqi missiles.

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