Life has been better since kidnapping

March 3, 2013

By Rob Alway

Editor-in-Chief

It’s been just over a year that Mark McCallum took his two children and drove them to Florida in an allegedly stolen vehicle. He took his then 2-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son to Key West, the southern-most point in the continental United States.

On Friday, after a week-long trial, McCallum was found guilty on two counts of kidnapping. At the time of the kidnapping, he and his wife, Sharon Kludy, were going through a divorce and she had custody of the children. He was not allowed to take them out of Mason County without permission.

Sharon said the past year has been one of growth for both her and her children.

“This last year that I have spent outside of the situation I was in has given me a great deal of perspective,” she said. “I would hope that I could inspire other women and men who are involved with controlling partners to make a plan, seek support and get out. Once they are out I would encourage them to stand up for themselves. Do not believe him or her when they make you feel worthless. You are smart. You are strong. You can take care of yourself and your children. Like all bullies, when I stood up to Mark in court it totally threw him  for a loop. He didn’t even know what to say when confronted with the cold, hard, truth. Again, I was under oath, he was not.”

McCallum chose to represent himself and would often try to testify from the floor. He never testified from the witness stand.

“The children and I are doing so well now. I am super proud of my son.  He is now 5-years-old, and he has adjusted so well in the last year. I can hardly believe it. He is a regular little man. It is so fun to talk to him now. He converses very well now (as I testified to, he could talk but could not hold a conversation at the time of his kidnapping). He is in preschool, and I believe he will be ready for kindergarten in the fall.

“He loves to draw, and his pictures are getting quite good now. He can count to 20, and he knows most of his letters. He loves to draw letters on paper and ask me what it says. He says he is writing a message.  He can write his name, and he always writes his name on all of his pictures. His behavior has improved tremendously.

“At the time of the divorce, they couldn’t get him to stand in line or do any group activities with his class.  When I would take the kids out he would run away, and I would have to chase him. Just a couple of weeks ago I took the kids to the mall (the first time in over a year since before they would run away from me in  the mall, and he had an accident on an escalator), and I was so pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t believe it. They both held my hands the whole time, and they both behaved very well.

“My daughter is also doing very well. She is also in preschool.  She is completely potty trained now,  and I’m so glad to be through that stage. She gives me so much love. I can’t imagine what I would do without her. She loves to hug and cuddle, and she always says, “I just love you Mommy.” She can make anything better with her love.

“My children gave me the strength and resolve to make it through this trial and my fears that people may actually believe I could have hurt my son. This community means so much to me. I have often said since I moved to Ludington that I have fallen in love with Ludington. I was afraid this trial  would damage my reputation around town,  and that means a lot to me.

“I have not hidden my children over the last year,  and many people around town have seen me with them. I enjoy taking them to all the festivals and parades downtown,  Sandcastles Children’s Museum, and all of the parks and beaches.  We also often enjoy eating at Brenda’s Harbor Cafe. I don’t know anyone who would describe me as anything other than a very loving and attentive mother with a lot of patience.”

Sharon said she is hopeful that Judge Richard Cooper sentences McCallum the maximum sentence of 15 years.

“I believe when Mark gets out the children and I will not be safe. He has made it clear that he will do anything he can to take those children away from me,  and that terrifies me. He has also proven  that no one in this community will be safe when he is out because he will take advantage of and steal from anyone, even people who would have given him the shirt off their back  if he needed it.

“Also I stood up to him and told him the truth during the trial. He is not going to be happy about that, and I do feel I will be in danger.

“If they can’t keep him in prison, he needs to be in a mental hospital. He truly needs serious help, and I don’t know if anyone can help him because he refuses to realize he has a problem.”

McCallum will be sentenced for parental kidnapping on April 2 at 2:15 p.m.

He will also be tried on separate charges of stealing a car, home invasion and embezzlement.

 

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