An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
Published Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2007, in Vol. 8, No. 134

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Contents copyrighted 2008 by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. (cédula juridica 3-101-290-170).  Republication without permission is prohibited under U.S. and Costa Rican laws and international conventions.


Consul general says actions were prompt and appropriate
Embassy official says delay in Tomayko case not due to race
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The consul general at the U.S. Embassy here has denied that a five-year delay in finding an international child abduction fugitive was the result of racial bias.

The case is that of Chere Lyn Tomayko, who for years occupied a spot on the F.B.I. most wanted list.

The consul general is David R. Dreher, and he made the denial in an e-mail to Roger Cyprian, the father of Alexandria Cyprian and the one-time boyfriend of Ms. Tomayko. Cyprian is black and had joint custody of the girl.

Ms. Tomayko fled Texas with the girl and has been living in Costa Rica since around the time of her U.S. federal indictment alleging the parental kidnapping in May 1997.
Said Dreher to Cyprian:

"In your e-mail, you reference a series of articles published by A.M. Costa Rica, an on-line newspaper, regarding the search for your daughter Alexandria Cyprian.  The articles present some 'facts,' and based on those 'facts' conclude that U.S. authorities deliberately delayed the search for Alexandria based on racial prejudice; i.e. the father is black and the mother white.  That conclusion is irresponsible and incorrect."

The consul general continued to defend the embassy's actions in the case: 

"As you know, the embassy was actively involved in looking for Alexandria in 2001, based on information you provided.  Unfortunately, the information did not result in the discovery and apprehension of the abducting parent Chere Tomayko.  In 2002, we received additional information alleging that Ms. Tomayko was in Costa Rica.  Once again, the information was investigated but did not lead to her location.  The case remained dormant, with no new leads until last year.  
 
"Contrary to the claims of A.M. Costa Rica, Ms Tomayko was not residing openly in Costa Rica.  The embassy acted promptly and appropriately whenever reports were received regarding her location.  It is unfortunate she was not detected earlier, but any delays were not due to racial bias."
The A.M. Costa Rica article Sept. 27 said that it appears
that embassy workers protected Ms. Tomayko until Alexandria Cyprian turned 18 in July. The news story suggested that the embassy employees might have been more sensitive to Ms. Tomayko's plight because she is white and Cyprian is black. But Cyprian said the FBI agent on the case did not think so, but he said that embassy workers might have believed a claim by Ms. Tomayko of  sexual abuse.

The woman was detained Sept. 19 in Heredia where she had been living most of the time. She is fighting extradition. After the arrest, the woman's daughter said she had been graduated by the European School.

In early 2002 A.M. Costa Rica readers responded to a story about the fugitive mother and reported that she was working in the Heredia area. They mentioned the European School there. A.M. Costa Rica, relayed that information to the U.S. Embassy. An embassy official in a later call to the newspaper asked that the information not be published because the case was sensitive. The newspaper complied so as to not ruin an investigation in progress.

No one else at the embassy ever contacted A.M. Costa Rica about the case, sought more information about the case or sought to contact the readers who knew the woman.
Most of the U.S. citizens working at the embassy now were not there in 2002.

Dreher also suggests in his letter that even if the embassy acted earlier the girl might not have been returned to her father in Fort Worth, Texas. He said:

"One issue not raised previously concerns the age of majority in Costa Rica.  In general, a 16-year-old is considered of age to make personal decisions, and we have encountered cases in which 15-year-olds were considered adults.  Even if Ms. Tomayko were detained prior to Alexandria's 18th birthday, it is not certain that you would have gained custody."

Since her arrest, the daughter of Ms. Tomayko, Miss Cyprian, has said she supports her fully and resents the intrusion of officials into their family life. Ms. Tomayko is believed to have had another child by a Costa Rican man.