Two children who were missing for nearly a year after allegedly being kidnapped by their mother are “still in shock” a week after authorities found them in a supermarket, according to their father.
Blake Gilley, 38, told NBC News that his 12-year-old son Adrian and 11-year-old daughter Brooke had been kept out of school and discouraged from interacting with anyone in the 11 months since they vanished.
“It is an understatement to say I was terrified and freaked out,” Mr Gilley told NBC News after an emotional reunion with the children last week.
Adrian and Brooke were reported missing from Liberty, Missouri, on 15 March 2022, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
All three were wearing disguises, police said, but did not elaborate on how they had changed their appearances.
In an arrest photo, Ms Gilley appeared to be wearing a red wig.
Ms Gilley was arrested on an active kidnapping warrant and appeared in the Alachua County Court this week, records show.
She is being held without bond and will fight extradition to Missouri, her lawyer Maurice McDaniel told NBC News.
Mr Gilley told the news network his ex-wife had moved between rural Airbnbs for much of the 11 months they were missing.
The two children had told him that Ms Gilley wouldn’t tell them where they were going, and ordered them to keep their heads out of sight when they were travelling.
They were physically healthy, but appeared to “still be in shock”.
Further details have emerged about the custody case between the former couple, who divorced in 2016.
According to a probable cause kidnapping warrant from the Liberty Police Department obtained by Law & Crime, Ms Gilley had refused to participate in a custody court case and had moved the children to California in April 2022.
“Through an ‘advocate,’ Kristi has refused to cooperate with the courts decision to grant Blake sole legal custody of their children.”
Mr Gilley told NBC News he planned to get his children counselling and get them back into school.