Annelise Barron, an associate professor at Stanford University, has been charged with felony child abduction after she left for the island of Kauai in December with her three children, allegedly without informing the children's fathers.
Barron, a professor of bioengineering, said the entire incident was the result of a misunderstanding and poor communication.
"I'm a tenured professor -- I love my job, and I find it amazing that anyone would think I'd run away and not think I'd be detected," she said to the Weekly Wednesday morning.
Police reports that became available only this week state that Barron left for Hawaii on Dec. 17 with her three children and nanny, missing a scheduled court court date with Judson Butler, the father of one child, on Dec. 17 and a scheduled visitation with Theodore Jardetzky, her husband and the father of two of her children, on Dec. 18.
Barron and Jardetzky, also a Stanford professor, had been in divorce proceedings for the past four-and-a-half years. Barron had full custody of the children in December.
Butler said that the children had been missing from school since Dec. 14.
Barron had not informed her lawyer or either of the men that she would miss the appointments, according to a police report. Barron's neighbor told investigating officers that she and several unidentified people had moved belongings out of her apartment and put them in a U-Haul moving van.
Raul Felipa, director of finance and administration at Stanford's Department of Bioengineering, told police in December that he had not seen Barron recently and that she had failed to turn in grades for the quarter. He said that she had been under a lot of stress because her research funding had dried up. Though she was not in danger of losing her job, he said she would have to lay off people working for her.
The investigation led officers to All Aboard Mini Storage, where an employee said that a woman matching Barron's description had rented three storage units and was acting "frantic and hurried," the police report stated.
Neither Barron nor her live-in nanny, Sonia Audino, answered their cell phones when police and the children's fathers called them. Police stated that, according to Barron's phone company, her cell phone was either turned off or not close enough to a tower to get a signature.
Police obtained search warrants for Barron's cell phone, office and Stanford email address. One email from Barron stated that she had made "the spontaneous decision" to spend her upcoming sabbatical at the Resonance Project Foundation, a physics research foundation based in Kauai, with her kids and nanny.
A text message from Barron to Audino told her to "put your driver's license into the microwave for 10 seconds (doesn't hurt it, just deactivates the RFID)."
RFID refers to radio-frequency identification, tiny chips used to transmit data.
"Given that she and Audino completely stopped using their cell phones, and that Barron told Audino to microwave her license so it couldn't be tracked via the RFID chip, we strongly believed that Barron's intention was to flee with kids and shut off all possible contact with Jardetzky and Butler, including their court-appointed visitation with their children," the police report stated.
Police also learned from Barron's Facebook page and interviews with the children's fathers that Barron had been at a conference in Maui with her children and nanny two weeks before the incidents.
Barron said she was arrested on Kauai on Christmas Eve.
Barron denied the claim that she had fled to Hawaii "forever," saying instead that she had gone to Kauai for vacation and to visit her friend Nassim Haramein of the Resonance Project Foundation. She said also she had purchased a return ticket.
Barron was released on $100,000 bail and has not entered a plea yet, according to court documents.
Lt. Zach Perron of the Palo Alto Police Department said that although the arrest occurred in December, the police waited until this week to publicly release information on the case while investigations from the department and the district attorney's office continued.
He said that the department's approach would have been different if it were a stranger-abduction case that might require the police to solicit the public's help, but they wanted to spare the children, who were also involved in family court proceedings, of exposure to "undue stress and trauma" that the attention might cause.