Charge dropped against mom in 1985 abduction of daughters

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A woman who disappeared from Rhode Island with her two daughters in 1985 will no longer face an abduction charge after being tracked down in Texas last week, prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

The office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said it dismissed the charge after “reviewing evidence that was not available or unknown to investigators” before the discovery of Liana Waldberg, 69, who went by the name Elaine Yates before fleeing the state 30 years ago.

Her lawyers have said Waldberg suffered years of abuse that was widely known, and said she should never have been charged. At the time, domestic violence was not a crime, and she had no other options, her lawyers have said.

Waldberg’s husband, Russell Yates, has acknowledged he hit her during an argument a few weeks before she left with their 10-month-old and 3-year-old daughters. He said last week that he did not want her to be prosecuted.

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Police found Waldberg and her two daughters, now in their 30s, in Houston after they received an anonymous tip two days before Christmas.

Kilmartin’s office said it dismissed the charge “in the interest of justice.”

Lisa Holley, one of Waldberg’s attorneys, said Waldberg is “living in fear” now that her identity and location have become compromised through her arrest. Holley urged Kilmartin to “take the necessary steps to keep her safe.”

Kilmartin’s office declined to comment.