For the first time, Savanna Todd is talking about the last 20 years when the Lowcounty and the nation were searching for her and her mother, Dorothy Barnett.
According to police report, Harris Todd filed a missing child report when Barnett allegedly never returned the infant to Todd following a visitation. That report led to a nation-wide and world-wide search for the child.
The search ended in November after Barnett, who changed her name to Alex Geldenhuys, was arrested and Savanna, known as Samantha Geldenhuys, was found.
In an exclusive interview with Australia's, "Today Tonight," television program, when Savanna was asked by Laura Sparkes if she knew anything about the kidnapping, her answer was simple.
"Up until this has all occurred, I never questioned in my mind that something like this had happened," Savanna said.
According to the Australian show, Barnett and Todd had a rocky divorce. The story claims that Barnett was deemed mentally ill and Todd was awarded full custody.
In a home video recorded just a short time before Barnett and Savanna disappeared, the mother said she would do anything for her child.
"I promise and swear, on my life, that I will continue to take care of my daughter," Barnett said.
Days later, the pair was gone.
Barnett moved to South Africa with Savanna, and married a man Savanna said she knew as her father. Savanna told, "Today Tonight," that her new father knew about her alleged kidnapping.
"He actually knew my mom and my background," Savanna said. "He took us in, and he married her. I have been told that he wanted this to be kept from me."
A few years after moving to South Africa, the new family located to Australia. Just a short time later, Barnett and her husband divorced. After he died of bone cancer, friends became wary when they realized Barnett would slip and call Savanna by her real name, instead of Samantha.
In November, Barnett was arrested and charged with lying on her passport and international parental kidnapping.
"She said that she is being arrested due to her having had a previous marriage and conceiving me within that marriage," Savanna said. "It became unsafe, and she had to take me and flee to protect me."
Now a 20-year-old nursing student living in Australia, Savanna said she does have a desire to meet her father. Her original name, however, is one she will never go by.
"Savanna can be a rememberance of what happened 20 years ago, but Samantha is who I am and who I will be," she said.
The Australian program reports that Barnett will face an extradition hearing on Monday.
News 2 reached out to Todd's attorney for comment on this story, but our emails have not been returned.
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