In 1985 in Rhode Island, two baby girls and their non-custodial mother, Elaine Yates, went missing. Kimberly Yates was 3 years old and her baby sister Kelly Yates was just 10 months. Their father, Russell Yates, filed a missing persons report. There was an extensive investigation and warrants were issued for the arrest of the mother, but no trace of Russell’s estranged wife or his two children was ever discovered. Now, an astounding 30 years later, the girls have been found alive.
Elaine Yates had adopted the alias of Liana Waldberg, and has apparently been living in the Houston area all this time. Her daughters are rumored by Heavy to have gone by the names of Sarah and Melissa Waldberg.
Sadly, before Elaine ran away with the children there was substantial family dysfunction and domestic violence. Back in 1985, Elaine caught Russell cheating on her. During an argument over the incident, Elaine is said to have hit and kicked Russell, and he in turn hit her, cutting her head. Russell took Elaine to a local ER for treatment, where the staff recommended Elaine take refuge at a battered women’s shelter.
Three days later, Elaine and her girls disappeared.
Elaine’s mother, Mary Pigeon, endured much turmoil after her daughter’s disappearance. In addition to losing contact with her daughter and granddaughters, the then 77 year old woman was jailed on suspicion that she knew where Elaine was hiding. Sadly, Mary passed away in 2000 having – as far as we know – never seen Elaine or her grandchildren again.
Elaine now faces two counts of child snatching. According to Rhode Island law, this could land her up to 20 years in prison.
Despite their tragic past, Kimberly and Kelly are said to be living happily in Houston with families of their own. There are records online of the girls – now women – competing in sports events, working successful careers, and having children.
The Houston and Rhode Island police officers who arrested their mother have given the daughters their father’s phone number. Our prayers are with them during this incredibly difficult and no doubt confusing time.
A timeline of the case can be found at www.ProvidenceJournal.com.