Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
Sandra Yi ReportingA former Minnesota couple on the run for nearly 20 years says they fled to keep their daughter from being taken by the state.
Ed and Karri LaBois were charged with sexual abuse, but prosecutors dropped the charges, saying they didn't have enough evidence to prosecute. News Specialist Sandra Yi sat down with the couple shortly after they were released from jail.
An emotional celebration of sorts, as a family begins to rebuild their lives. Kerri LaBois says she finally has some peace of mind.
Karri LaBois: "All I care about is that she can have a decent, continue to have a good life with her family, ok? 'It's ok, sweetie.'"
On the run for nearly 20 years Ed LaBois is now a free man. His wife Karri, a free woman.
Ed LaBois: "We're just one couple, one family that this has happened to."
Their story goes back nearly 20 years when the couple, who was living in Minnesota, was charged with sexually abusing their then four-year old daughter. After a police interview they fled and changed their name. They have been living in Utah for the past seven years. Authorities caught up with them earlier this month.
Ed LaBois: "I think the system is actually set up to take families apart, to take children away from their parents."
The couple says they were victims of a witch hunt. They say their daughter was manipulated to build a case against them. Ed LaBois says running was their only choice to protect their little girl.
Ed LaBois: "They accuse you of sexually abusing a child. You can say I'm innocent, you can do all you want, but people are going to believe you're guilty. It's like they set up a game, their card game. Their rules, their stacked deck. They can't lose."
The couple says even though they were fugitives, their lives were otherwise normal. They worked and their daughter went to school. But their choice to run was not without sacrifice.
Karri LaBois: "My husband, he gave up a lot too, because he has two sons and he's never forgotten his two boys. He loved them and he will be mad that I say this, but he's cried many a tear that he wasn't there. But we had no choice because they're grown and we had to protect her."
Today the LaBois’ are feeling a mix of emotions from relief to anger.
Karri LaBois: "Our life is destroyed now. It was destroyed when they made the allegations and we ran. But we put a life together, and if you ask our daughter, I'm sure she'll say that ‘my momma and papa gave me the best life.’ I have no complaints, but it could have been much better. There could have been a lot more."
They say 20 years of their lives were lost. They say there's a lot of healing to do before they can move on with their future. The Labois plan to move out of Utah at the end of the year. Ed Labois says he will devote his time to helping families and children in similar situations.