(The Canadian Press)

‘Never give up,’ says mother who reunited with son who went missing 31 years ago

Jermaine Mann was allegedly abducted by his father when he was just 21 months old

A Toronto-area mother who spent three anguished decades wondering whether her son was alive or dead said their recent, happy reunion should offer hope to other families grappling with the pain of missing a child.

Lyneth Mann-Lewis said the story-book ending to her long, painful tale of separation offers proof that even circumstances that seem hopeless can turn around unexpectedly.

The Brampton, Ont., mother spoke publicly Monday after returning from an emotional reunion with a son who was allegedly abducted by his father 31 years ago, raised under an assumed name and told his mother was dead.

While tearfully recounting the reunion, which gave her the chance to cuddle and cook for her son for the first time in decades, Mann-Lewis said she also thought of others whose children are still missing.

”I am the proof that after 31 long years of suffering, one should never give up,” she said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “Be patient, be strong, and believe that all things are possible and that anything can transpire.”

The saga for mother and child began in 1987 during a visit between 21-month-old Jermaine Mann and his father, Allan Mann Jr.

Toronto police allege Mann Jr. abducted his son during that visit and fled to the United States, where he established false identities for them both.

Toronto police Det. Sgt. Wayne Banks offered few details of the father and son’s years in the U.S., other than to say that Mann Jr. engaged in alleged criminal activity from the time of his arrival and created a deceitful existence for Jermaine.

“They lived, basically, a life of lies as to who they were and what they did, unbeknownst to Jermaine,” Banks said. “He was under the impression that his mother had died shortly after birth.”

READ MORE: B.C. children lost in international abduction

Mann-Lewis contacted both Toronto police and the Missing Children Society of Canada in hopes of finding her son, launching multi-decade investigations in both agencies.

Banks said the case went cold until 2016 when the force’s fugitive squad co-hosted an annual training session for forces around the world.

The Mann case was publicly discussed at the session, he said, prompting a collaboration between Toronto police and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Banks did not offer particulars of the American investigation, but said it led to the arrest of Allan Mann Jr. on Friday. He said officials used facial recognition technology to identify him, but declined to share the name the accused had been using in the U.S.

Banks said Mann Jr. is currently facing multiple criminal charges south of the border, but will be extradited to Canada to face one count of abduction in his son’s disappearance.

After decades of waiting, Mann-Lewis said in many ways the last few hours before seeing her son again were the worst.

Flanked by officials with the Missing Children Society, she said she agonized over the pending reunion, especially after her original flight to Connecticut was cancelled and the party had to catch a later flight.

Once she got there, she said, she was able to revel in the reality of touching her son again, adding he seemed quick to make connections of his own.

“‘Oh, mommy, you have my eyes,’” she said of his first words to her. “He hugged me and he kissed me and we held there for a long time.”

Mann-Lewis said she then took great pleasure in cooking for her son, adding he broke his usual vegetarian lifestyle to eat the chicken she prepared without knowing his dietary preference.

She declined to say whether her son will readopt the name Jermaine or use the one he’s known his whole life, adding she would respect his choice either way.

She said her son has had a chance to speak by phone to his half-brother, Mann-Lewis’ child by another marriage.

Amanda Pick of the Missing Children Society said the reunion marks the culmination of a case that preoccupied investigators for decades.

She had praise for officials who waded through hundreds of tips and interviews over the years, as well as for Mann-Lewis and her relatives.

“Lyneth and her family have been a tower of strength and perseverance throughout the investigation,” she said. “During all these years her strength and her courage always gave us hope and spurred us to never give up.”

Allan Mann Jr. appeared briefly Friday in federal court in Hartford, Conn., where he faces charges including making false statements in transactions with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

U.S. officials said Mann Jr. has dual Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship, and was found living in subsidized housing in Vernon, about 20 kilometres east of Hartford.

– With files from The Associated Press

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council approves second attempt for downtown cannabis retail shop

Firestone Cannabis submitted a new application after their first was denied in August

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Three young Sylvan Lake residents are asking for lights to be added to the walking trail system to make them safer and less scary at night. Photo by @workinonmyfitness72
Young Sylvan Lake residents ask for lights to be added to walking trails

Three young Sylvan Lake residents appeared before Council recently to present their ask

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer
Five-year-old boy fighting cancer celebrates Halloween with reverse trick-or-treating in Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin Fire Department made a special stop for Dawson Jackson.

A man runs across the Carcross Dunes in Carcross, Yukon, on July 2, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘No manual or checklist:’ Yukon ditching fall time change this year

The territory decided to adopt year-round daylight time in March

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wednesday, Aug., 5, 2020. Despite its status as an artificial intelligence hub, Canada has yet to develop a regulatory regime to deal with issues of privacy, discrimination and accountability to which AI systems are prone, prompting calls for regulation from businesses and experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Canada crawling toward AI regulatory regime, but experts say reform is urgent

5 million images of shoppers collected without consent at Canadian malls

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

(Photo submitted)
Rimbey resident avid author despite Parkinson’s

Wins more accolades for her writing

(Photo Submitted by the Gord Bamford Foundation)
Lacombe’s Gord Bamford to perform a virtual concert for a good cause

The concert aims to raise awareness for Operation Santa Clause

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read