Two Lakeville, Minnesota, sisters who have been missing since April 2013 were found by police Nov. 18 at a western horse farm.
Samantha and Gianna Rucki were “safe and in seemingly good health,” the Lakeville Police Department said in a news release Nov. 18. Samantha, 17, and Gianna, 16, disappeared amidst a bitter custody battle, according to the Star Tribune.
Police believe the girls' mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, helped them get away from their father, David Rucki. Grazzini-Rucki was arrested in Florida on Oct. 18, but she didn’t help authorities get any closer to finding her daughters.
The teens were found at White Horse Ranch, which describes itself as a safe haven for abused children.
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“Broken children and hurting horses are able to bring each other to a place of healing through God’s unconditional love,” its website read before it went offline, according to the Star Tribune.
Police said they went to the ranch after searching for evidence at the St. Cloud, Minnesota, home of Dede Evavold, a supporter of the “Protective Parent” movement, which advocates for changing family court procedures so that abusive parents are not given custody of their children.
Police suspect a network of individuals critical of the family court system helped hide the sisters, but the husband of the ranch’s owner declined to comment on the matter.
Kari Hagstrom, the Equestrian News managing editor, told the Star Tribune that children don’t live at the ranch, they simply attend sessions with the animals there.
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“They would be the last people I would suspect of having any nefarious doings,” Hagstrom said. “I imagine they were trying to help someone out and not cause more harm.”
Over the course of the custody battle, Gianna and Samantha, who were 13 and 14 when they ran away, said their father abused them. A psychologist, however, concluded that their mother had brainwashed them to believe this. In November 2013, David Rucki obtained full custody of the girls as there was no credible evidence of abuse.
Grazzini-Rucki has been charged with three counts of felony deprivation of parental rights for allegedly helping her daughters disappear. She is currently being held on $1 million bail in Minnesota, after being extradited from Florida.
Grazzini-Rucki and her attorney both say she had nothing to do with her daughters' disappearance.
Her daughters are now in the process of being reunited with their family, according to KARE11.
Photo Credit: Lakeville Police Department via KARE11