Crime

When will man accused of taking stepdaughter and baby return to Illinois?

The man accused of kidnapping his 13-year-old stepdaughter and her newborn will appear in court in West Virginia next week, and he remained in jail as of Thursday.

Katherine Derleth and her baby son, Christopher, were taken from a foster home in rural Madison County on Sept. 17. Madison County soon charged Katherine’s stepfather, Christopher M. Derleth, with aggravated kidnapping and child abduction.

The three were located at a remote campground in West Virginia on Saturday. Katherine and baby Christopher were found to be in good condition and have returned to the metro-east, according to law enforcement officials.

In the meantime, Derleth was in custody Thursday in Kanawha County, West Virginia. Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said he is coordinating efforts with Kanawha County prosecutors to get Derleth back to Illinois to face prosecution. A fugitive warrant from Madison County has been delivered to Kanawha County.

“What I’ve been told at this point is that a judge will hold a hearing… to determine what (Derleth) plans to do regarding the extradition request,” Gibbons said.

The hearing has been set for next Wednesday, Gibbons said. At that hearing, Derleth can choose whether to fight extradition to Illinois or not. If he waives the fight, Madison County has 10 days to pick him up.

If Derleth fights extradition, there could be a longer delay — but Gibbons said Derleth will eventually face his charges. “I’ve never seen a defendant successfully resist extradition from one state to another,” Gibbons said. “It’s just a delaying tactic.”

Meanwhile, Gibbons said he is also coordinating with Bond County officials. Prior to the kidnapping, Katherine had been removed from the home of her mother and stepfather, and Derleth had been issued a no-contact order requiring him to stay away from her. Law enforcement officials said a paternity test on baby Christopher had not yet been performed when the children disappeared from the foster home.

Bond County State’s Attorney Christopher Bauer said law enforcement agencies are still investigating, and no charges have yet been filed against Derleth in Bond County.

Gibbons said, “We will be moving forward with our charges, but we’ve been cooperating with (Bond County) from the beginning,” Gibbons said. “Whichever is the quickest path to justice, that’s what we will do. We have charges already, so we’re going forward to keep him locked up.”

Gibbons said there is also the potential for federal charges, since Derleth took the two children across state lines. He said the U.S. Attorney’s Office and his office frequently confer on cases and this is definitely one they would discuss.

“Any time there is a potential of federal prosecution, we discuss it,” Gibbons said. “Some cases are better prosecuted on the federal level; others are better prosecuted on the local level. We will discuss it with them and determine how to achieve the best measure of justice.”

Nathan Wyatt of the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he could not confirm or deny any investigation or prosecution until charges were filed.

For a short time, the case file was sealed in Madison County courts, but has since been reopened. While Derleth was on the run, police requested a subpoena from First Data of Colorado regarding Derleth’s account records, and the file was ordered sealed until Derleth was in custody. The seal was lifted Tuesday.

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald

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