Two Minnesota sisters who had been missing since April 2013 were found by authorities on Nov. 18, 2015, at a western Minnesota horse farm.
Samantha and Gianna Rucki, who were 17 and 16, respectively, at the time they were found, were "safe and in seemingly good health," Lakeville police said. The Rucki sisters reportedly vanished amidst a nasty custody battle between their parents.
Authorities said they believe the girls’ mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, helped them run away from their father, David Rucki, the Star Tribune reported. Grazzini-Rucki was apprehended in Florida on Oct. 18, 2015, but did not disclose any information regarding the whereabouts of her daughters.
The sisters were eventually found at White Horse Ranch, described as a safe sanctuary for abused children.
"Broken children and hurting horses are able to bring each other to a place of healing through God’s unconditional love," its website reads, according to the Star Tribune.
Police said they searched the ranch after looking for evidence at the St. Cloud, Minnesota, home of Dede Evavold, a supporter of the "Protective Parent" movement, which advocates for changing family court processes so that abusive parents are not given guardianship of their children.
Authorities said they suspect a network of people who disapprove of the family court system helped hide the teens. The ranch owner’s husband declined to comment on the incident.
The Equestrian News managing editor Kari Hagstrom told the Star Tribune that the girls didn’t live on the ranch, they simply attended sessions with the animals there.
"They would be the last people I would suspect of having any nefarious doings" Hagstrom said of the couple who runs White Horse Ranch. “I imagine they were trying to help someone out and not cause more harm.”
During the custody battle, Gianna and Samantha, who were 13 and 14 at the time, said their father abused them. However, a psychologist concluded that their mother had brainwashed them into believing David mistreated them.
In 2013, their father obtained full custody of the sisters since there was no reliable evidence of abuse.
The girls’ mother was charged with three counts of felony deprivation of parental rights for assisting in their disappearance. She was held on a $1 million bail in Minnesota after being extradited from Florida. Grazzini-Rucki and her lawyer maintained that she had nothing to do with the teens’ disappearance.
The girls have since been reunited with their family, according to KARE11.