SANTA ROSA — A man who allegedly fled the state with his three children was arrested in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Richard John Burke, 54, reportedly pulled the kids out of school last month, citing medically inaccurate information about mask wearing and vaccines. He was supposed to return the children to his ex-wife on March 24, per a court-ordered custody plan, but instead left his motel room in disarray and took off with them in a passenger van, according to court documents.
One of the boys had a broken arm and had missed a follow-up doctor’s appointment.
Before his disappearance, Burke wrote a “concerning” email to his children’s elementary teachers, according to charging documents.
“I appreciate all of your efforts and under different circumstances this could’ve been an ideal school for them,” he reportedly wrote. “Unfortunately, nothing about now is ideal and I am forced to make extraordinary decisions to protect my boys.”
He forwarded the email to his ex-wife.
“The Burke boys will be living on our own,” he wrote. “You have only yourself to blame.”
His ex-wife reported that Burke had often threatened to take the boys and “go off the grid.”
Burke was charged with three counts of first-degree custodial interference, a felony offense.
He and the three children were found safe in Santa Rosa, a small town more than 100 miles east of Albuquerque.