State dismisses charge against mom in ’85 kidnapping case

The photo on the left shows Elaine Yates following her arrest in Texas. The Photo on the right is the age progressed photo that was rendered while authorities were still looking for Yates and her two daughters.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The state of Rhode Island is dropping its case against a mother charged with abducting her two daughters in Warwick more than three decades ago.

Elaine Yates, 69, was arrested earlier this month on a kidnapping charge in Houston, where she was living under the name Liana Waldberg. She pleaded not guilty in court last week.

Police said Yates abducted her two daughters, Kimberly and Kelly, from their father in August of 1985. She did not have custody of the girls.

Kilmartin’s office said it filed a notice of dismissal after a thorough review of the case.

Just last night, Yates’ attorney, Lisa Holley, told Eyewitness News the charge should be dropped, saying it was a “huge mistake” to charge her in the first place.

Holley and her fellow attorney, Bethany Macktaz, released a statement Wednesday urging Kilmartin to make sure their client is kept safe now that her identity has been made public.

“We were very pleased to be able to share the news of the dismissal of the charges with our client. Unfortunately, this nightmare is not over for Liana. The fact remains that she is now again living in fear.

“We implore the RI Attorney General to take the necessary steps to keep her safe, now that her identity and location has been compromised by this unwarranted arrest.”

Public Information Officer Amy Kempe responded on behalf of the AG’s office on Wednesday evening. She said these types of cases are difficult. “The context of the era coupled with the societal and statutory enlightenment further complicates the matter,” she added.

According to Kempe, “Ms. Holley and her client have every right to file a criminal complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency or seek court protection should her client fear her safety is at risk and we would encourage them to do so.”

Law enforcement from Texas was responsible for the executing the arrest warrant, said Kempe.

Investigators believe Yates fled because of a domestic dispute. There were no laws in the state to protect domestic violence victims at the time, according to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Her husband, Russell Yates, admitted to the Providence Journal in 1988 to striking his wife during an argument shortly before she fled, but declined to comment on the incident outside court last week.

Kimberly was 3 years old at the time of her disappearance while Kelly was just 10 months. Police said they now have different names and their own families.