It is now 8:30 AM Eastern Standard time in the United States of America. After a long flight from Frankfurt to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, my son, Eric Matthew Wintersgill has been successfully returned to his rightful home in Rising Sun, Maryland! I would like to formally thank Mr. David Thelen and Ms. Christiane Lops from the Committee for Missing Children who were directly responsible for the return of my son. This would not have been possible without them. My son was abducted in June of 2002, and was wrongfully removed from the United States and the current custody order in place was directly violated by his Mother. After a frantic search for help from the State Department and the NCMEC, I finally realized that I was in a situation where strong knowledgeable people were necessary to put the proper tools in place. The Committee did just that. A meeting was set, and I was introduced to Mr. Harald Weisker, Attorney at Law, also a member of the board of directors for the Committee for Missing Children. Immediately, the Hague application was filed. The ball was rolling, and things happened very quickly. The first Hague hearing was scheduled, and I was in Germany in February of this year for the Hague hearing. Mr. Weisker and his lovely wife Regina Weisker were brilliant. Their attention to detail and their knowledge of The Hague are un-precedented. Contrary to popular belief, the presiding German judge was very well educated in the Hague proceedings, and the decision was final. Eric was ordered returned by 7 March, and the enforcement of the order was also included in the final written decision. If Eric was not returned, a fine of 10,000 Euro and six months in prison would go into effect. My son would be removed from the residence by the police authorities and turned over to my designated representative.

By German law, the opposing side has 2 weeks and one day to file an appeal. This was done, of course, at the last minute by my ex-wife s attorney. The appeal was accepted, and a court date was set for the 23rd of April 28, 2003 in the Oberlandesgericht in Karlsruhe, Germany. I was back in Germany again for a second time. The hearing lasted for four hours. The three Judges presiding, one male and two females, were again, very educated in the Hague proceedings. My son, who has just turned nine years old, was privately interviewed by the judges. That lasted for approximately 15 minutes. Their decision had been made. My ex-wife and her attorney withdrew the appeal. The first court order stayed in effect. Eric was ordered returned, and the order stated that he must be returned with me on my scheduled departure within my weeks stay in Germany.

We were surprisingly notified by a large private German television station, SAT 1, that they would be present in Frankfurt International Airport to cover this story. It turns out that the opposing attorney and my ex-wife had notified them of this case, and they were following the story from the beginning without my knowledge. The TV crew was present at the airport yesterday. They had tried to turn the events toward the mother losing a child, but quickly realized that there was much more to the story than what they had been told. I was interviewed as well as Mr. Weisker, and the record was set straight. It will air this week in Germany.

The bottom line is this: Parents, please do not give up. Proper documentation and quick response time with the Hague application are paramount. Contact the Committee for Missing Children. They WILL provide you with the proper information and put you in contact with the proper attorney. Children ARE returned from Germany. The judges ARE educated. Please forward this information to as many parents as possible. I personally will be glad to correspond by phone and by e-mail. Being an advocate for the return of our children is very important to me and I will do everything I can to help those that are in the same situation. It has been 10 months since I last saw my son, and now he is home, safe, and in the care of a loving, caring family. I will be providing photos of this touching story for public distribution. Thank you Maureen, you have been a huge help.

Sincerely,
Mr. Ronald Wintersgill, Eric Wintersgill and family.