Runaway Ohio Mom Tiffany Tehan Likely to Go Unpunished

After massive manhunt, cops say missing Tiffany Tehan just wanted "a new life."

ByANDREA CANNING, LEE FERRAN and RUSSELL GOLDMAN via logo
April 20, 2010, 4:25 PM

April 23, 2010— -- The Ohio mother who sparked a nationwide manhunt when she ran away from home with another man is unlikely to face criminal charges, a family law expert said today.

"You have to say, 'What's the crime?'" family law attorney Michael Kretzmer told "Good Morning America" today. "[There's] no question that deception was involved, but I think that's going to be something that law enforcement's going to have a tough time, really, proving there was a crime."

Tiffany Tehan, 31, disappeared Saturday, leaving behind husband David and 1-year-old daughter Lexie. The vanishing act triggered a cross-country search until police, acting on an FBI tip, found her staying at a Miami Beach motel with Tre Hutcherson, a man police had called a person of interest in her disappearance. Police quickly determined that Tehan was not in danger.

"She left voluntarily with this fellow and drove to Miami to -- and these are her words -- start a new life," Miami Beach police Sgt. Wayne Jones said.

Kretzmer said it's possible but unlikely that Tehan will face misdemeanor charges for inciting a panic.

"I think from a practical standpoint, you have to consider whether the state has a substantial interest in going after these people," he said. "You want to discourage this kind of activity and there should be some culpability for all that occurred. But again, no crime."

No charges have been filed against Tehan or Hutcherson and Miami police said it appears no one broke any laws. Capt. Scott Anger of Ohio's Xenia Police Division Thursday called the incident a "personal, family matter."

David Tehan said Thursday he was angry at Hutcherson but that he "absolutely" forgives his wife. When asked why he forgave her, Tehan said, "I don't know. It's supernatural.

"She may have made some mistakes but everyone does and I can't blame her for any of this," the husband said. "She's a person like anyone else getting through life, and it's not always easy."

Tehan said he wants his wife to come home and work out the problems in their marriage.

"There may be issues to work out, but that's OK," he said. "Issues we can work out."

During a phone call with his wife after she was discovered, she asked about Lexie and "told us she missed us," David Tehan said.

He said they had been so busy that he didn't suspect anything was wrong.

Tehan's father, Chuck Tabor, became emotional when he heard that his daughter was found unharmed Wednesday night.

"Just to know my little girl is safe is all I needed," Tabor said through tears at a news conference Thursday.

Husband of Runaway Wife Didn't Suspect Marital Problems

Ever since surveillance footage of Tehan surfaced with Hutcherson on Tuesday, police considered the possibility Tehan was a runaway and not in danger.

Tehan told police she intends to return to Ohio but it is unclear when, Miami police Sgt. Wayne Jones said.

David Tehan told "Good Morning America" Wednesday the couple was not having marital problems.

"It just seems so completely out of character. I just can't understand or believe it," he said.

Before Tehan was discovered in Miami Beach, her friends said she would never have just left her daughter.

"We're trying to leave the details and the speculation to the police," Tracy Staley said earlier this week. "That mother-child bond is unlike anything else."

David Tehan said Wednesday their daughter is "coping as well as can be expected," considering how her life has been disrupted since his wife's disappearance.

"If there's anything I could say to Tiffany," he said before she was found, "it would just be that I love you, I miss you and I can't wait to see you again."

Police released images Tuesday taken from a surveillance camera at a convenience store showing Tehan and a bearded man, later identified as Hutcherson. Police say Tehan and the man regularly visited the store together in recent weeks, but her friends and family did not recognize him.

Tehan's husband had last heard from his wife around 11 a.m. Saturday, while she made the rounds at garage sales looking for inexpensive clothing for their daughter.

ABC News' Tomomi Arikawa and Monica Escobedo contributed to this report.

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