A mom who kidnapped her infant daughter in 1994 and successfully eluded authorities for two decades has broken her silence on what motivated her to do what seemed, at the time, to be an unforgivable act. Dorothy Lee Barnett opened up to CBS’’48 Hours’ about how she managed to escape discovery while she was on the run.
CBS News, ”In 1994, Barnett was in the midst of a bitter divorce with then-husband Harris Todd. One day she and the couple's 11-month-old daughter, Savanna, vanished. The disappearance launched an international search for Barnett and Savanna that didn't end until she was arrested in Queensland, Australia, in 2013.
When Barnet’s marriage to Todd Harris fell apart, their daughter was just a couple of months old. The couple did try a stint in couple’s therapy, but, instead of giving the couple tools for repairing their damaged relationship, the doctor gave Barnet a diagnosis of a mental illness.
That’s when Harris, who had never wanted children, decided to sue his wife for full custody, in an attempt, according to Barnet, to inflict as much damage as he could. With the testimony of the doctor who had treated them, Barnett was not able to convince anyone that she was NOT mentally ill.
She lost custody of Savana. It was after only a short time that she began planning her escape. She was concerned for her daughter’s well-being in the custody of a father who did not want her and was determined to send the girl away if she displayed any of the same signs of Barnet’s ‘mental illness.’
But, before Lee Barnett left the country, “she made a tape and sent it to friends and enemies alike. In it, she condemned her husband, Harris Todd, for casting her as the villain in a sinister drama that she claimed he fabricated out of vengeance -- a characterization she stands by to this day.”
Fast forward twenty years, a time in which Lee and her daughter, whom she had renamed Samantha (thanks to some phony birth certificates she obtained) spent traveling the world. Their adventure took them to exotic places like Germany, France, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, and Botswana before settling in Australia.
She also married again and gave birth to a son.
Then in 2013, she got that knock on the door that meant her days as a fugitive had come to an end. She was eventually extradited to the United States where she stood trial for her crimes.
After Barnett’s return to face charges in the U.S., she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 21 months in prison for international child kidnapping and two counts of passport fraud. She was released in May 2015 with credit for time served.
During the interview '48 HoOurs' interview, Barnett was asked if she ever felt remorse over her actions. Even denying her daughter a relationship with her father. She responded without a moment’s hesitation, “None.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve never done anything violent. I’ve raised two amazingly healthy, intelligent children who are happy,” she said. “So who’s telling the truth?”
To hear from Lee Barnett's children, and their thoughts about their life 'on the run,' watch the video, below.