Former Mountain Creek woman Dorothy Lee Barnett details the 20 years she spent on the run after fleeing the United State for the Sunshine Coast.
Former Mountain Creek woman Dorothy Lee Barnett details the 20 years she spent on the run after fleeing the United State for the Sunshine Coast. Photo Contributed

Queensland's runaway mum tells all on US television

CONVICTED runaway mum, Dorothy Lee Barnett, has spoken for the first time about her secret life before being arrested in Mooloolaba in 2013.

American television network CBS ran a 41 minute segment on Barnett's story titled "Dear Savanna" in its popular true-crime series, 48 hours, on Saturday night.

In it, Barnett and her daughter, known as Samantha Geldenhuys but born as Savanna, provided all the details on Barnett's crime, her life in hiding and her dramatic arrest.

It also provides Barnett's version on why she resorted to such desperate measures to flee her home.

Barnett, kidnapped her 11-month-old baby daughter, Savannah and fled her Charleston home after losing custody to her ex-husband, South Carolina stockbroker Harris Todd III.

She later ended up in South Africa, marrying the man Samantha would know as her dad, Juan Geldenhuys and she created a new persona, Alex Geldenhuys.

The couple had another baby, Reece and moved to Australia in 2007, before their marriage broke down.

Barnett continued to live a normal life on the Sunshine Coast, until 7.30am on November 5, 2013 when the FBI knocked on her door.

Close family friend, Steve Schofield, tipped the FBI that Alex Geldenhuys was in fact Dorothy Lee Barnett and the international crime mystery was finally solved.

Lee was extradited to America and was convicted and sentenced to 21 months jail for kidnapping and passport fraud.

Samantha also discovered for the first time her secret history and met her real dad in America.

Barnett has now served her time and is spending two years on probation in America.

The CBS crew travelled to Mooloolaba for extra footage for the lengthy feature, including interviews with her friends.



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