Man Accused Of Taking Daughter Is Headed Back To St. Louis

By: Peter Shinkle
(reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 23, 2006)

Arlen D. Hill II, accused of parental kidnapping for taking his daughter to New Zealand without his ex-wife’s permission, has been returned to this country to face a federal indictment in St. Louis.

Hill, 33, appeared in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday and waived a hearing in which U.S. authorities would have to prove his identity.

His defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum, said Hill waived the hearing "in an effort to get back to the St. Louis area as soon as possible so he can defend himself on these charges."

Rosenblum declined to discuss the facts of the case, but he said of Hill: "He loves his daughter very much, and his actions were always motivated in that regard."

The federal indictment of Hill, however, paints a different picture. It says that from June 2002 to June 2005, he took the child out of the country and kept her there in order to prevent his now ex-wife from exercising her parental rights.

Before the girl’s disappearance, her mother, Julie Coleman of House Springs, last saw her on June 8, 2002, when Arlen Hill picked up the girl for what was expected to be a two-week visit.

Coleman went to New Zealand in June 2005 to retrieve her after Hill was arrested there. The girl, Taylor Hill, was 1 year old at the time she left the country and is now 4.

The eight-count indictment also accuses Arlen Hill, formerly of the 4000 block of Osage Ridge in House Springs, of aggravated identity theft and passport fraud.

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said that in 2002, Hill allegedly took the identity of Paul Reynolds, a man with whom he had at one point worked and whom he resembled to some extent.

Hanaway said Hill allegedly obtained a birth certificate for Reynolds, then presented it at a Department of Revenue office and obtained a duplicate of Reynolds’ driver license.

Armed with those documents, Hill obtained a passport in the name of Reynolds and then left for New Zealand with his daughter, Hanaway said.

Hill’s plan began to unravel in early 2004, when Jeffrey A. Williams, a former U.S. Air Force counterterrorism agent, met him while playing pool in the Philippines.

Williams said the man, who gave his name as Reynolds, claimed he had a daughter by a Filipino woman he had met in Mexico.

Williams, a native of Du Quoin, Ill., later talked with family members and concluded that the man named Reynolds was in fact Hill, who had grown up in nearby Pinckneyville, Ill. Williams then helped authorities locate Hill, who had moved with the girl to New Zealand.

Hanaway said that before his return to the United States, Hill served an eight-month prison sentence in New Zealand for using false documents to enter that country.

If convicted of the charges in federal court in St. Louis, Hill faces a maximum of 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, Hanaway’s office said.