Kevin Esterly, 45, waived extradition from Miami to Pennsylvania on Monday
A 45-year-old man who ran away to Mexico with his daughter’s 16-year-old friend has agreed to extradition, as his wife says she’s refusing his calls from jail.
Kevin Esterly, 45, told a Miami judge on Monday that he would waive his right to fight extradition back to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he faces a charge of child custody interference.
Authorities may opt to bring further charges upon investigation, but the age of consent is 16 in Pennsylvania, and Mexican federal law sets the age of consent at 12.
‘I’d like to go back to Pennsylvania as soon as possible’ Esterly told Judge Mindy S. Glazer after she explained that he had the choice to waive or contest extradition.
‘That’s a smart choice,’ the judge replied.
Esterly was found on Saturday in the Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen along with 16-year-old Amy Yu, who was returned safe to her family in Pennsylvania.
Amy disappeared with Esterly on March 5 and was found with him in Mexico on Saturday
Mexican police are seen taking Esterly into custody in Playa del Carmen. From there US Marshals transported him to Miami, where he faced an extradition hearing on Monday
‘I’d like to go back to Pennsylvania as soon as possible’ Esterly told a Miami judge on Monday
Esterly’s wife Stacey (pictured) has been refusing to take any of his calls from Miami jail
Esterly and Amy disappeared from Allentown on March 5.
The two met at church years ago, and the Amy is friends with one of Esterly’s four daughters, according to Amy’s family.
Esterly and Amy had gotten so close she often went on his family’s vacations and the older man had often come to Amy’s home for meals, her mother Mia Luu said.
Amy even changed school documents to list the older man as her step-father, and he signed her out of school 10 times between November 13 and February 9, police said.
Amy’s mother discovered the deception when she came to get the girl from school on February 9 and found that Esterly had already signed her out. The furious mom warned him to stay away from the teen.
Before fleeing town with the girl, Esterly withdrew $4,000 from his join bank accounts with wife Stacey, she told police.
Luu discovered after her daughter vanished on March 5 that she had taken some of jewelry, her passport and cash.
Esterly and Amy had gotten so close she often went on his family’s vacations with his kids
Amy changed school documents to list Esterly as her step-father, and he signed her out of school 10 times between November 13 and February 9. They are pictured with his daughters
Stacey told cops that her husband withdrew $4,000 from their accounts before fleeing
When the pair disappeared, police were immediately suspicious. A warrant for Esterly’s arrest was issued on March 7.
Cops tracked the pair to Mexico and issued an Amber Alert there on Thursday.
On Saturday, Mexican federal police found the pair in Playa del Carmen, the coastal resort on the Yucatan near the island of Cozumel.
Amy returned to Pennsylvania on Saturday, where she was taken to a hospital for examination and reunited with her family.
Esterly was transported by US Marshals to Miami. He will be extradited to Pennsylvania shortly after waiving his right to contest.
Since he arrived in Florida, Esterly has been trying to call his wife Stacy – but she has refused all of his calls, her attorney told CBS News.
‘Stacey is happy that Amy is home and that Kevin is in custody,’ attorney John Waldron said in a statement.
Prosecutors are examining the case and could bring more serious charges, for instance if Amy tells investigators that she didn’t want to go to Mexico, or if she asked to return but Esterly refused.
Mexican authorities issued this Amber Alert seeking Amy and Esterly on Thursday
The beach in Playa del Carmen is seen. Cops found Amy and Esterly in the town on Saturday
If the girl went willingly to Mexico with Esterly it could present a valid defense for him, Allentown attorney Thomas Joachim told the Morning Call, a local newspaper.
Under Pennsylvania law, a person commits the crime of interference with the custody of a child if they knowingly take a child under the age of 18 away from their legal parent or guardian.
However, if the child is at least 14 years old and goes with the person willingly, and the defendant had no intention of committing a criminal act with the child, that could lead to acquittal, Joachim said.
Since the age of consent is 16 in Pennsylvania and 12 in Mexico, sexual acts between the two wouldn’t necessarily be criminal.
However, if Esterly gave the girl alcohol that could open up additional charges of corrupting the morals of a minor or endangering the welfare of a child, experts said.
While Esterly is behind bars, his wife Stacey is working full time to support their four daughters, according to a GoFundMe campaign to assist them.
‘She is committed to making every effort to see her children through this situation as best as possible and maintain a sense of stability for them,’ her attorney said.