Michael Elias met Mayumi in 2OO4 while he was stationed in Japan. They dated, but separated amicably when Elias came back to the U.S. Mayumi called not long after he returned to tell him she was pregnant with his child.
They married and welcomed daughter Jade in January 2006. They made their home in Elias' hometown of Rutherford, N.J. A son, Michael, followed a year later, born while Elias was serving in Iraq. But Elias said his marriage had changed after he returned home from Iraq.
"It was like a different feeling," he said."It wasn't the same as when I had left."
They separated a short time later and began dating other people. Elias said Mayumi's boyfriend was a Japanese national who worked as a travel agent.
Like the Sawyer kidnapping, Elias and Apy believe his children – Jade, now 5, and Michael, 3 and a half, – were abducted after some questionable activity at a Japanese consulate.
Though Mayumi – who worked at the visa and passport desk at the Japanese consulate in New York – had been ordered by a New Jersey judge to surrender all four of her children's passports just two months before the abduction, airline records show she boarded a Japan Airlines flight out of Chicago using duplicate passports.
"Her going to Chicago and the motivation for doing that is part of the very important question we're trying to find out – whether or not the government, i.e. employees, knowing that the passports had been surrendered, issued them anyway," Apy said. "Or in the alternative she lied to that government and induced them to provide duplicate passports."
ABC News was unable to locate Mayumi for comment.
Elias has left Jade's bedroom untouched, except to hang more family pictures. Rows of shoes and racks of stylish little girls' clothing fill the closet. Her favorite pair of frog-adorned rain boots sits on the shelf next to shoes.
"I cannot stop crying every time I think of them," Elias' mother, Nancy Elias, said. "We have so much love, and it's been taken away. My soul has been taken from me."
Both of his children's names have been tattooed on Elias' arms as a reminder of what he's fighting for.
"Everything that I do, I always see it," he said. "When I talk to people and they ask me and it's the same response that I tell them, that I'm fighting for my kids."
Nancy Elias wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to bring her grandchildren home.
"She said once it takes a village," Nancy Elias said, "Well this is my village and we need her."
Some of the fathers ABC News spoke to, including Dr. Moises Garcia of Milwaukee, have fought their ex-wives in Japanese courts. In Garcia's case the Japanese courts made the rare move of recognizing U.S. court orders that granted him custody of his daughter.
Yet he hasn't been able to take his children home.
"I still have Karina's room, like when she left it. She left a puzzle there, unfinished. And it's still there," he said.
Garcia, who is recognized in Japan as the custodial parent, yet still has little access to 8-year-old Karina, visited Japan seven times last year. He was allowed to see his daughter twice for short, court-monitored visits in a room with a two-way mirror.
On the last trip, for Karina's birthday, he drew a picture of her when he was not allowed to take one with his camera.
"Every time I go to Japan I just feel happy to be there, walk on the same streets," Garcia said, as his voice cracked.