Local & Regional
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities internationally are looking for a Los Angeles mother who now faces criminal charges after she took her two sons on a trip to central Europe last year and never returned.
Prosecutors have charged Maria Pfeifer, 32, with breaking child custody laws. If convicted, she faces up to six years in jail.
Pfeifer took her sons, ages 4 and 10, last summer to the Czech Republic and her native Slovakia as part of a court-approved trip, according to the Daily News of Los Angeles. Pfeifer at the time shared custody of the boys who have different fathers.
Pfeifer, who previously worked as an escort, made excuses about when she would return, but she and her children have yet to be found, authorities said. A federal judge has since issued an arrest warrant at the request of the FBI and U.S. attorney's office.
Federal authorities are working with local law enforcement agencies in Europe on the search, and Interpol has issued notices.
The fathers said they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in hopes of finding their sons.
"It would be one thing if we knew he was safe," said Larry Hummel, whose son is 4-year-old Sasha. "If there was some communication, anything — a photo or an email from her saying 'I'm in Slovakia. You're never seeing your kids again.' At least I'd know she's on the planet Earth, and the kids are safe. But we've had zero communication since July of 2012."
A few months before Pfeifer left on the trip, Hummel was awarded joint custody of their son.
"She saw things going not her way. It was a bloody custody battle," Hummel told the newspaper. "She didn't believe that the kids needed fathers in their lives."
Robert Pfeifer, a former Hollywood Records president, said he last saw his 10-year-old son Jerry on Father's Day 2012.
"I wake at night worrying for my son, if he's scared, has he lost hope, is he being hurt?" Pfeifer said. "When the seasons change, I feel he knows more time has passed. Hopefully, he hasn't lost hope ... I know he's waiting for me to get him."