Harris Todd and his ex-wife Dorothy Lee Barnett went through an awful custody battle over their 11-month-old daughter Savanna in 1994. Although it’s uncommon for a family court to separate such a young child from her mother, the judge decided Savanna was better off in the custody of Harris. When Barnett failed to return Savanna after a supervised visit, Todd went to Barnett’s home to get Savanna back. But when he got there, the house was completely cleared out. Harris began to take action. He reached out to John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” and appeared on “Unsolved Mysteries.” Dozens of leads came in from all over but nothing panned out.
Twenty years later, Dorothy Lee (who changed her name to Alexandra Geldenheys after marrying a man from South Africa, and gained citizenship in New Zealand) was caught by the FBI in Australia. That’s when Savanna, by then known as Samantha, learned she was living a life invented by her mother. Still, Savanna vows to stand by her mother in Australia. Dateline NBC will air its report of the case on August 7 at 10pm.