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Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications Co., Published October 07 2010

Apparent abduction prompts search

GRAND FORKS – What appears to have been the kidnapping of a 4-year-old boy from a school bus in the driveway of his Aneta home by his out-of-state mother prompted a regionwide search for more than 90 minutes Wednesday. The search involved federal, Canadian and local law enforcement agencies up and down the Red River Valley.

By about 6:30 p.m., the mother and son, along with three adults traveling with the mother, were apprehended without incident by a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper at the intersection of Interstates 94 and 29 in Fargo, about 120 miles away, said Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke.

The mother, Jacqueline Kiefat, had been living in Las Vegas and lost custody of her son about two months ago, Janke said.

The boy has been living with his grandmother – his father’s mother – in Aneta, which is about 110 miles northwest of Fargo.

The boy’s father, Ray Kiefat, has been working construction in Minot and was contacted Wednesday by Janke’s office.

It began when the mother called Janke’s office about 4:40 p.m., “saying she was in Aneta waiting for the school bus,” Janke said. The mother said she planned to pick up her son peacefully from his home, would cooperate with the grandmother and get his clothes and then was going to take him “back to New Hope, Minn.”

New Hope is a northwest suburb in the Twin Cities.

But 10 minutes later, at about 4:50 p.m., Janke got a 911 call from the boy’s grandmother’s home in Aneta, saying Jacqueline Kiefat had entered the school bus while it was in the home’s driveway, picked up her son and carried him “in a bear hug” to a maroon Dodge Ram pickup truck with Indiana plates, Janke said.

A man and two other women were with Jacqueline Kiefat in the truck.

Two of the people with Jacqueline Kiefat went into the boy’s backyard and took his clothing off a clothes line.

Someone in the house with the grandmother “deemed it was people stealing and ordered them off the property,” brandishing what later was determined to be a pellet gun, Janke said.

No shots were fired, nobody was injured, and whether that action could result in charges hasn’t been decided.

“We are still trying to sort this all out,” Janke said.

After the 911 call, Janke put out an all-points bulletin, mobilizing law enforcement agencies across the region to be on the lookout for the Dodge pickup.

Every bridge across the Red River was watched, and Grand Forks police and Grand Forks County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to various points to wait and watch.

Because it appeared Jacqueline Kiefat did not have legal custody of her son, Janke contacted Canadian authorities and the FBI.

The U.S. Border Patrol was contacted about getting an aircraft to search for the Dodge pickup truck.

When the Dodge pickup hadn’t been located by about 6 p.m., Janke issued an Amber Alert that named Jacqueline Kiefat as the person thought to have taken the boy.

Janke isn’t sure exactly what route the pickup took to Fargo.

He said the Dodge pickup last was seen leaving Aneta northbound on state Highway 32. The normal route to the east then would be state Highway 15 a few miles north of Aneta that then passes by Northwood, with two or more possible routes to get south and east to I-29.

Jacqueline Kiefat was not arrested by early Wednesday evening, but was being questioned in Fargo, Janke said.

The boy was taken into protective custody by Cass County Social Services, he said.


Lee writes for the Grand Forks Herald