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Photo: Handout via PEOPLE

Missing teenage sisters located safely on Minnesota ranch

Two sisters who disappeared from their home in Lakeville, Minn. in 2013 were found safely on a horse ranch in Minnesota Wednesday.

Samantha and Gianna Rucki, ages 16 and 17, disappeared from home while a custody dispute was underway between their parents, according to PEOPLE. The girls said that their father, David Rucki, was abusing them physically and emotionally.

Of course, he denied the accusations. He blamed the teenagers’ mother, Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, had turned the girls against him.

The girls ran away from their father in April 2013 and they hadn’t been seen until Wednesday when U.S. marshals found them on a Herman, Minn. farm, The Star Tribune reported. The marshals went to the ranch in search of evidence that would lead to the girls, but they found the girls themselves.

Authorities have thought for some time that their mother was responsible for helping Samantha and Gianna get away. But, she always denied knowing their whereabouts.

Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was arrested in Florida last month on charges of felony deprivation of parental rights, PEOPLE reported. She was then extradited to Minnesota where she remains in Dakota County jail, according to KARE11.

David Rucki received full custody of the girls in November 2013. A jury ruled that there was no sign of abuse and that his daughters would reunite with them soon.

“The sisters will return to Dakota County where the unification process can begin,” Lakeville police said. “Both Dakota County Attorney’s Office and the Lakeville Police Department ask for respect and privacy of the Rucki family during the reunification period.”

One of Grazzini-Rucki’s lawyers says that she is glad the girls have been recovered. “I am in disbelief,” the attorney Michelle MacDonald said. “I hope the girls are reunited with their mother and brothers and sister, and even their father,” she told The Star Tribune.

Authorities think that the girls might have been hiding with the aid of an underground network of critics of the family court system, called “Protective Parent,” who think courts don’t rightly shield children from abusive parents. The girls were discovered at the home of Dede Evavold, a supporter of the group.

The evidence obtained while searching Evavold’s home led authorities to White Horse Ranch. The ranch is a nonprofit where “broken children and hurting horses are able to bring each other to a place of healing through God’s unconditional love,” according to its website.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as Natmonitor.com, CheekyChicago.com and FamilyFocusBlog.com. Contact Meredith: meredith.rodefer@youthindependent.com