Tampa mother spends special holiday with son after kidnapping

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Rachelle Smith never gave up hope. She knew in her heart, she would one day be reunited with her 4-year old son Dexter.

“You know, I always held onto hope and I was determined that no matter what that I would get Dexter home,” said Smith. “But there were many days and nights of not knowing … worrying.”

In August, Dexter’s father, Ali Salamey went to his son’s daycare, checked him out and the two flew to Beirut, Lebanon. Salamey sent Smith videos and Dexter appeared to be happy and healthy.

The trip, his mother feared, would never end.

When Rachelle and her attorney, Patrick Leduc held a news conference in front of Tampa Police Headquarters in September, hundreds of people commented on the Facebook post. One of those posting was Ali Salamey. He claimed Rachelle is lying and her lies and his lack of faith in the U.S. judicial system pushed him to snatch his son and leave the country. He also sent e-mail messages to WFLA.

“I am the father and all I want is to ensure my Son’s safety. I am not hiding from anyone and have made myself available to anyone,” wrote Salamey. “I have 3 years of evidence against her including video evidence of her admitting lying to police so she can get an advantage in court. I have meticulous documentation! I love my Son more than anything in this world and I will do anything to protect him.”

In October, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida issued an arrest warrant for Salamey after charging him with removing the child from the United States.

Fast forward to June, when authorities arrested Salamey and Dexter was finally reunited with his mother after nearly ten months. Smith loves every second with her son, but admits he is a handful!

“He’s amazing. He’s sweet as can be, but he’s also a little 4-year old,” said Smith. “If you have a four-year-old, you know what I’m talking about.”

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