The day I was arrested after 20 years on run
THE incredible true story of a mum-on-the-run who eluded the FBI for two decades before her secret life in Queensland was exposed is detailed in a new book - and a Hollywood thriller may soon follow.
Lee Barnett has written a memoir titled A Mother's Promise, which has been published by Penguin Random House and will be available on April 16.
It details her amazing escape under a new identity from the United States after a bitter custody battle, and spy-like travels around the globe with her baby daughter, culminating in a new start on the idyllic beaches of the Sunshine Coast.
In Queensland, she was known as Alexandra Geldenhuys. A tip-off from one of her friends ended a 20-year mystery and global hunt and she was swooped on and arrested by Australian and US Federal Police in 2013.
Ms Barnett was extradited to the US and pleaded guilty to parental kidnapping and making false statements in a passport application, spending 18 months in jail.
She said she wrote the book because she was passionate about fighting injustice, wanted to empower women without a voice and shine a light on inequities in the family court system, which continued to this day.
The book reveals the emotional turmoil in the wake of her marriage breakdown and insurmountable odds of taking on her powerful and well-connected ex-husband in court.
She writes that the only way out - and the only way to protect baby Savanna - was to run and hide.
Ms Barnett, 58, said she had been blessed to have already received some serious interest from a couple of well-known directors wanting to bring her story to the big screen.
Ms Barnett desperately wants to return to Australia especially to see her daughter, but has so far been unsuccessful in gaining a visa .
She has stayed in close contact with her children, Samantha (born Savanna) who lives on the Sunshine Coast, and son Reece, 23, who she had with second husband Juan Geldenhuys, who died of cancer before her arrest. Reece is a finance student at Auburn University in Alabama.
READ MORE IN THE QWEEKEND MAGAZINE TOMORROW