|For Immediate Release
Case # 03CF2671
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
FATHER CONVICTED IN OLDEST ORANGE COUNTY CHILD ABDUCTION CASE FOR UNLAWFULLY
TAKING TODDLER SON IN 1976
SANTA ANA – A father was convicted today in the oldest child abduction case in Orange County for violating a custody order and unlawfully taking his 20-month-old son in 1976. Donald Evert Rowe, 69, formerly of Riverside, pleaded guilty to one felony count of child detention with right to custody. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and three years probation.
On Nov. 19, 1976, Rowe and his then-wife, Deborah Wilson, completed divorce proceedings and obtained a divorce order granting Wilson physical custody of the couple’s young son, Brian, and Rowe alternate weekend and holiday visitation. On Dec. 3, 1976, Rowe picked Brian up from Wilson’s Huntington Beach home with the understanding that he would return the 20-month-old child at the end of the weekend. He then fled with Brian and failed to return the child to his mother. Wilson reported the abduction to the Huntington Beach Police Department, and several attempts were made to locate Rowe and Brian. A warrant for Rowe’s arrest was issued Jan. 27, 1977.
On or about Dec. 17, 1991, Rowe unexpectedly returned Brian to his mother after 15 years and fled again, leaving Brian with his mother. The defendant eventually contacted an attorney to discuss turning himself in, but instead went into hiding. Recent investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office revealed that Rowe may be living in the Fort Worth, Texas, area under the name Stephen McCallum. He was arrested by Orange County District Attorney Investigators with the help of the U.S. Marshals on June 19, 2008, at his home in River Oaks, Tarrant County, Texas.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Bacin of the Child Abduction Unit prosecuted this case.