March 11, 2010 -- The California woman who was found last week after going missing 14 years ago at age 8 has no interest in reuniting with her father, police said today.
"Jessica is very adamant about not seeing him," Walnut Creek, Calif., police Det. Shawn Wallace said of the woman known as Jessica Click-Hill, 22.
Wallace, whom Dean Click credited with helping find his daughter, was the first to interview the young woman.
Click-Hill was found last week after her mother, Wendy Hill, allegedly abducted her 14 years ago after a divorce and custody battle with Click.
Hill has been charged with felony child abduction and has pleaded not guilty. She could not be reached for comment.
Before their disappearance, Click said, Hill accused him of child molestation, an allegation that he believed was a last-ditch effort to gain sole custody.
"As a trump card in divorce proceedings, Wendy played the molestation card," Click said. "All of the allegations were just false. I went through a lie detector test when these allegations were first aired and none of this is true."
Walnut Creek police confirmed that Click was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Jessica 'Shocked' to be Found
Wallace, whose team worked with the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to find Click-Hill, said Walnut Creek police are looking into the possible motives Hill may have had for allegedly abducting her daughter.
"We are looking at the accusations," Wallace said. "We need to look at all angles, to be fair."
As for Click-Hill, Wallace said, "she was more surprised than anything" that law enforcement found her after all these years.
"She was a little shocked that all this happened and now she is working through," he said. "She is an adult and we are going to let her make her own decision about seeing her father."
Suspect 'Ready to Be Done With This'
Until a tip was sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Wallace said, Click-Hill and her mother had managed to avoid detection through aliases and careful moves.
After interviewing suspect Hill, 52, Wallace believes "she is ready to be done with this" and face her charges, which have yet to be determined, he said.
"The final charges have not been decided yet and we are still waiting for the FBI reports," Wallace said.
The issue is particularly sensitive, he added, because the party pressing charges and the suspect are the parents. "This isn't a Jaycee Dugard thing," he said. "This is a mother doing what she thinks she has to do for her child. She gave her as normal a life as she could."
He noted, however, that the sensitive nature of the allegations does not dampen their severity. "She took her child and concealed her from the father and that is a crime," he said.
'Kids in the Crossfire'
Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said parental abduction is not uncommon.
About 200,000 children a year are abducted by a parent in the United States, according to the center. And it fights aggressively to help in the searches, whatever the circumstances.
"The case has to be reported to the police," Allen said. "We follow the rule of law."
Allen said he has noticed a positive change in the public's perception of parental abduction, which has not always been seen as something criminal.
"Historically, it has been difficult to get serious response from the public and from law enforcement, but that has changed considerably," Allen said. "Kids do suffer harm. It is often motivated not by love of the child but by anger or revenge towards the other spouse. It puts kids in the crossfire."
Name Legally Changed
In some cases, Allen said, children have been lied to their whole lives by the abducting parent. "Sometimes, we even realize a child thinks the other parent is dead," Allen said. "There was a boy taken when he was 1 month old. When he was 21, he found out for the first time that he had another parent."
But that's not the case for Click-Hill, officials said.
"It is not the case that her mom lied to her," Det. Wallace said. "She knows her story. She knows who she is and where she comes from."
Indeed, it appears that Jessica Click-Hill may no longer go by the name Jessica Click-Hill.
"Jessica had her name legally changed while she was an adult, over 18, " Wallace said, declining to release the name.
As for now, her father said he can only hope she will read his letter and call.
"I am working on the letter and I am giving it to the police," Click said. "I am in the process of saying, 'I love you Jessica. I miss you terribly.'"