A Cheyenne Mountain State Park ranger apprehended a Massachusetts man on Saturday afternoon who was suspected of taking his four children from his ex-wife during an apparent custody dispute and refusing to return them, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced.
The children - identified by Salem, N.H., police as ages 9, 8, 5 and 3 - were taken by the Colorado Department of Human Services and put into protective custody, a Parks and Wildlife release says. They didn't appear to be harmed or in any danger. Matthew Giovanditto, 30, was detained and later released.
The children were awaiting their mother's arrival in Colorado, police said in a Monday morning Facebook post.
Ranger Jason Hagan was getting gas in his patrol vehicle on the south side of Colorado Springs when he spotted a white Chevy with New Hampshire plates pulling a pop-up camper trailer. He had been told to be on the lookout for a vehicle matching that description.
"Hagan said he took a hard look at the driver and was convinced he was face-to-face with the man being sought by authorities in New Hampshire, so he got on his radio to call in for backup from Colorado State Patrol," the release says.
Hagan and a ranger trainee, Thomas Duff, jumped out of their truck and handcuffed Giovanditto until the State Patrol arrived. Giovanditto reportedly tried to convince the rangers they "had the situation all wrong," the release says. The ex-wife had been granted full custody by a New Hampshire court, but "made an agreement for the children's father to take them for a short time while she got situated," police previously said in a Facebook post.
The ex-wife lives in Salem, police said, but Giovanditto's last known address was in Taunton, Mass.
Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198