Tampa mom pleads for son's return after father took him to Lebanon

- Rachelle Smith is desperate to find her three-year-old son, Dexter.

She says he was taken by his father, Ali Salamae, with whom she is battling for their son's custody.

"I am here to beg for any and all help to get my little boy returned," Smith said through sobs. 

Smith says Salamae broke into her home and took Dexter. He was charged with felony burglary and interfering with child custody.

While the two battled it out in court, Salamae was allowed to take his son on the weekends, but when Dexter didn't show up to school on Monday, Smith feared the worst.

"Mr. Salamae having a dual citizenship in the United States and Lebanon, he was able to obtain a Lebanese passport and flee the country with the love of my life, my precious baby boy," sobbed Smith.

Her attorney, Patrick LeDuc calls this an international incident and accuses the state of Lebanon of being complicit in kidnapping.

"He obtained a Lebanese passport for himself and the child without the mother's knowledge and consent, in violation of our laws," said LeDuc.

Since her son was taken, Smith says Salamae has sent her videos of Dexter playing on a scooter and dancing around. She says the videos were sent to taunt her.

She says her biggest fear is she will never see her son again.

"Dexter, if you are watching this, I will never stop looking for you. I promise," Smith said.

LeDuc says they have reached out to the State Department, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Bill Nelson for help.

The Tampa Police Department and the FBI are also involved in the investigation.

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Tampa mom pleads for son's return after father took him to Lebanon
  • Former special needs teacher accused of rape
  • Cortez service industry bands together to keep struggling workers afloat
  • Pasco K9 tracks down suspect who tried to kidnap child, deputies say
  • Farewell, Princess Ulele: Temporary fixture removed from Riverwalk
  • Five months later, Tampa police name suspect in artist's death
  • Polk volunteers gear up for Florence relief mission
  • 2 U.S. airmen, Vietnam vets forever connected by lifesaving kidney donation from one to the other
  • Ruby, a furry fire victim, will become the next Palm Harbor firefighter
  • Schools and roads: Is there room for two tax hikes on the ballot?