haugen

Jill Haugen leaves Northumberland County Court in this January file photo. A county judge Friday said she must return to Washington State, where she faces charges.

A woman who unlawfully took two of her children with her when she fled the Pacific Northwest 12 years ago will be returned to Washington State as early as Wednesday.

A police detective from Spokane, Wash., will arrive in the Valley to escort Jill Haugen to Washington after Northumberland County President Judge Robert Sacavage was satisfied with Friday morning’s testimony of Haugen’s ex-husband, Bill Connington.

Connington shared custody of the children when Haugen took them East in July 1998.

Milton police in December discovered Haugen was a fugitive living in the borough, and using her maiden name. She was arrested and has been held in Northumberland County Prison since.

As she was led into the courtroom Friday morning, Haugen looked at her 20 or so supporters and said, “Good to see everyone.”

After settling in, she turned around and asked, “Is he here?”

Onlookers pointed toward Connington, who was sitting behind Assistant District Attorney Michael Toomey and arresting officer Todd Ulrich.

“I didn’t recognize you,” Haugen told Connington.

The former couple exchanged a laugh.

Connington was then called to testify as to his former wife’s identity.

“Is Jill Haugen in the court today?” Toomey asked.

Connington pointed at his ex-wife and said, “Yes. She is sitting right there.”

Connington said he hadn’t seen Haugen since July 1998 when she was supposed to return the children after having had them for a few hours.

When she never showed, he began trying to find them.

“I had no idea if they were dead or hurt or anything,” he said. “The first couple years were rough because I was trying everything I could to find them, from working with the FBI and missing persons to trying everything I could, but then I just went on faith.”

Public defense attorney Michael Suders asked whether Connington remembered Haugen filing a protection from abuse order against him in 1998.

After an objection by the prosecution, Sacavage told Connington to answer the question.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Connington said.

Suders asked: “How could you not remember something like that?”

Connington responded: “It’s been 12 years. I really don’t remember.”

Connington also told the court he didn’t remember his and Haugen’s wedding date.

“I’m not sure exactly when we got married,” he said. “I think it was 1995.”

Sacavage told Haugen and Suders that the hearing was not to resolve the custody case or abuse allegations, because that was up to Washington State officials. After listening to Connington’s testimony, Sacavage said he was satisfied that her identity was correct and proceeded to execute the Washington State governor’s warrant for her extradition.

“I’m not happy about going back to Washington,” Haugen said as she was being led out of court.

“He (Connington) has now perjured himself twice.”

Pastor Jill Bond, from the Revival Tabernacle Church, in Watsontown, which Haugen frequented, said after Sacavage’s ruling that Haugen needs to face the Washington State charges.

“And then,” Bond said, “she can move on with her life.”

Spokane police detective Stephanie Barkley is expected to make the trip to Northumberland County to escort Haugen back as early as Wednesday.

Trending Video

Recommended for you