By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Although Pat beat the criminal charge for interference with child custody--the jury believed that Pat was operating under the reasonable belief that she needed to protect her child--the civil court was not nearly so merciful. Judge White denied Pat overnight visitation with Alicia, allowing Pat to see her daughter only in the presence of an armed guard.
Except for these supervised visits with her mother, for the next two years, Alicia led the normal life of a little girl. Pete and Kathy rented a house in Denton, where they enrolled Alicia in ballet classes, bought her a horse, and taught her to ride. Pete coached Alicia's soccer team. From all appearances, Alicia seemed happy and trusting--amazingly unscarred by the insidious battle between her parents.
Still, Alicia loved her mother and asked to spend more time with her. Although Pete wanted to give his daughter what she wanted, he worried that Pat would resort to her old ways. Pat's new lawyer, a senior litigator in a major downtown firm, offered a guarantee that he would personally pay the cost of finding Pat if she again ran. All Pete had to do was drop the armed-guard requirement, and seven years of hostilities would cease.
In December 1992, Pete finally acquiesced, but he wanted to see how things progressed before he allowed overnight visitation. For the next six months, visitation went without incident. Pat always returned Alicia at the appointed time. The truce seemed to be holding.
On June 13, 1993, at 8:30 a.m., Mark Hall appeared at Pete's door to collect Alicia for church services and a day with her mother. Alicia, dressed in her Sunday best, hugged Mark and skipped to her mom, sitting in the back seat of the couple's station wagon. As the car pulled away, Pete waved goodbye to Alicia.
He never dreamed that he was saying goodbye to his daughter for years.
Private investigator Paul Hulsey was back on the case, with Pat's embarrassed attorney paying his fee--at least for a while.
Pat and Mark had disappeared, taking not only Alicia--for whom Pat had no overnight visitation rights--but Mark's 7-year-old son Jonathan, in defiance of the visitation schedule awarded to the boy's mother.
The day after Pat and Mark disappeared, Hulsey went to look for clues at the Halls' home in Carrollton. There he met Dan Hall, Mark's brother, who had received a letter from Mark which began, "By the time you get this, God willing, we will be safe in the underground."
Based on information found at the house, Hulsey determined that Faye Yager and the Children of the Underground had aided Pat and Mark in their flight. They were probably being hidden at one of Yager's so-called safe houses: a motel, farm, a back room, anyplace that could offer sanctuary and anonymity while the heat was on.
Hulsey concluded that the Halls had been planning their getaway for nearly two years. Mark had filed for bankruptcy in January 1993; he hadn't made a mortgage payment in more than 17 months. The couple had sold all their furniture to an estate dealer for $3,100--but took all of Alicia's things with them.
Inside the house, Hulsey found two interesting clues: one was a scrap of paper on which was written, "Dominican Republic." Another was a business card which listed the address of a man living in the Central American country of Belize. Dan Hall told Hulsey that his brother and Pat had vacationed in Belize just a few months earlier. Mark had said he had met an American couple there who offered him a job. Says Hulsey, "I knew Mark wanted to be a missionary, and Pat loved to go to church to meet her suckers. With the information that I had, I figured they might turn up doing missionary work in Belize."
In August 1993--after Alicia had been gone for two months--Hulsey flew to Belize City. He spent about two rain-soaked weeks there, making contacts, going to Baptist missions, papering the jungle and beach terrain with bulletins containing the photos, habits, and identifying characteristics of Alicia and her abductors. The bulletin offered a reward; caution was advised. Hulsey also combed missionary areas in Guatemala and tracked a possible sighting of Mark Hall to a remote Honduran island. The lead netted a man who looked like Mark--tall, overweight, scared--but it turned out to be another American fugitive. Hulsey returned to the States empty-handed.
Back in Collin County, Faye Yager made her involvement in Alicia's abduction a matter of public record. She notified the court clerk that the Halls had granted her power of attorney and she wished to be informed of all court dates regarding Alicia. On October 26, 1993, she wrote a letter to attorney Bette Ann Caton, the guardian appointed to represent Alicia's interests. After likening Judge White to Hitler, Yager declared, "It is my pleasure to announce that she [Alicia] is as happy as a pig in the sunshine. On her special list of places that she does not want to go is Hell and Texas." The letter was accompanied by a videotape of Alicia repeating, in a bored manner, the same overly rehearsed litany of abuse allegations that had obsessed her mother since Alicia was 2.