An A.M. Costa Rica reprint
Published  Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 6   

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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.

Embassy here blames FBI for Tomayko case fumble
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy here is blaming the Federal Bureau of Investigation for fumbling a high-profile child abduction case. An embassy official made that allegation in an e-mail to a U.S. senator.

The case is that of Chere Lyn Tomayko, who faces a federal charge for taking her daughter, Alexandria, out of Texas in May 1997. The woman had joint custody with the father, Roger Cyprian, a one-time boyfriend. The case was under the supervision of the Tarrant County District Court.

The case earned headlines because Ms. Tomayko remained free, living in Heredia, until Sept. 19 when she finally was detained on the child abduction charge. By that time her daughter was legally an adult.

The woman spent five years in Heredia even though embassy officials were told where she was in 2002. A.M. Costa Rica has suggested that someone in the embassy was protecting the woman.

However, the consul general, David Dreher, said in a Nov. 28 e-mail to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas that embassy officials sent the tip to the FBI within 24 hours.

"In early 2002, the U.S. Embassy in San José received information regarding the possible whereabouts of Chere Tomayko and Alexandria Cyprian," wrote the diplomat. "That information was transmitted to the FBI within 24 hours, and the FBI acknowledged receipt and authorized an investigation."

Roger Cyprian, who brought the case to the attention of his state's senator, said that his contacts with the FBI say they never received such a tip. Ms. Tomayko was a high profile fugitive and was on the FBI's 10-most-wanted list along with Usama Bin Laden. She was the agency's poster girl for parental child abduction. The wanted poster specifically asked that tipsters overseas contact the local embassy.

In his e-mail Dreher correctly notes that he was not in Costa Rica in 2002 and said that he was basing his response 
on a voluminous case file.

One embassy State Department employee who was there at the time also said Tuesday that he thought the information was sent to the FBI.

". . . I have seen nothing in the file to indicate anyone in the employ of the U.S. Embassy in San José acted improperly in this matter, and it is my firm belief, based on 24 years of service as an officer of the U.S. Government, that no U.S. Embassy or consulate would condone the activities alleged by Mr. Cyprian," said Dreher.

In early 2002 it was A.M. Costa Rica readers who 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.

In an earlier message to Roger Cyprian, Dreher defended the embassy's action saying they were prompt and appropriate. He made no mention of a 24-hour notification of the FBI. But at that time he did say that there had been an investigation in 2002:

"Once again, the information was investigated but did not lead to her location.  The case remained dormant, with no new leads until last year."

Ms. Tomayko remains in prison awaiting extradition. She filed a habeas corpus case with the Sala IV constitutional court seeking to block her return to the United States, but the court turned down the claim Dec. 4.  She is believed to have one or perhaps two other children born here while she was a fugitive.