On NBC’s “Dateline: Finding Savanna,” the story of Harris Todd is told as he tries to find his baby daughter, who her biological mother is said to have taken from him in 1994. His search for his stolen daughter ended more than 20 years later. In the episode, he talked about what he did to look for her. The episode tries to figure out how they got to where they are now. So, who is Harris Todd, and where is he right now? Let’s find out.
Who is Harris Todd?
Harris Todd, whose real name was Benjamin Harris Todd III, was a stockbroker when he met Dorothy Lee Barnett, a beautiful flight attendant. Many people thought he was the ideal southern gentleman because he liked poetry and kept to himself. In an interview, Dorothy said, “Oh, no, not at all. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was about friends.” But things changed when Harris asked Dorothy to marry him five years later. She also said, “He just told me that I made him feel differently than anyone else ever had. Then something else happened.”
Even though her friends didn’t like the match because the two of them were so different, they got married anyway. Patty Roth, who is friends with Dorothy, said, “They had very different goals in life. She was very outgoing, but he kept her to himself for the most part.” She also said, “Lee wanted to have kids. Harris told everyone very clearly that he never wanted kids. All of their problems began when she told him she was pregnant.
Harris denied the claims and said that Dorothy’s bad temper was to blame for their marriage problems. The couple went to marriage counselling after a few disagreements turned into what was said to be violent fights. Their psychiatrist, Dr. Oliver Bjorksten, said she had a hyperthymic temperament, which means she was quick to blame others and lose her temper. After filing for divorce and fighting over custody of their daughter, Savanna, for a long time, Harris won custody of her on February 18, 1994.
But Dorothy ran away with their 11-month-old daughter just two months after she lost custody. That was the last time Harris saw his daughter for more than 20 years. He went to the FBI, made occasional appearances on national TV, sued Dorothy’s family, and even got former “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh to help him make a PSA begging for Savanna’s return. He had lost all hope and was moving on when, in 2011, he got an email that he hadn’t expect.
Where is Harris Todd Now?
The email was sent by an Australian couple who said they had known Dorothy and Savanna for more than a decade as Alex and Samantha. They also sent a picture of the mother and daughter together, and he recognised his former wife right away. With this information, the FBI went to Dorothy’s house in the Australian beach town of Mooloolaba and arrested her on charges of international parental kidnapping and two counts of passport fraud in 2013. She was sent back to Charleston, South Carolina, where she was given a 21-month prison sentence.
Harris went to Australia to find his long-lost daughter, Savanna, but she didn’t want to meet him because she was in college at the time. He had to go back to the U.S. without being able to see her. But when Savanna wrote him a letter, he told her how happy he was with her good grades in college. A few years later, the father and daughter met again, and he gave her a two-and-a-half-hour tour of his house, showing her all of his favourite things. But Savanna remembered that the first time they met was a little strange.
Harris remembered giving his daughter a hug and taking her to the room where her cot was still standing. He said, “To be honest, I was just trying to keep myself together. I didn’t want to just stand there and cry or something.” He says they haven’t seen each other since then. But Harris saw how awkward the situation was and said, “You know my daughter is now her person. She can decide for herself.”
He also said, “My daughter knows where I am, and whether she wants to talk to me or not, she knows I want to hear from her no matter what.” Savanna is open to having a relationship with her biological father as long as he doesn’t force her to stay away from Dorothy. She said, “I have been very forgiving of all the things he has said, and I want to know if he will be the same with me when this comes out.” Harris still lives in Charleston, which is in South Carolina.
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