BOISE --A nearly three-and-a-half month ordeal for Laura Silsby is finally over and the Idaho missionary isnow back home.
Silsby arrived at the Boise Airport around 1:40 p.m. Tuesday and washugged and greeted by family members and fellow missionaries. Her sister and mother were among the group welcoming Laura home.Silsby said she looks forward to spending time with her children.
It feels incredible. It feelsincredible. I just give praise to my God. I thank him for bringing me home, said Silsby.
Silsby is thelast of 10 Americans detained while trying to take 33 children out of Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake. Shewas freed Monday when a judge convicted her but sentenced her to time already served in jail.
Silsby is the organizer of the ill-fated effort to take the children to an orphanage being set up in the neighboring Dominican Republic.
Silsby deflected questions about her experience in Haiti and said those answers will come at a later date. She said now is a time for celebration and being with her family.
Pastor Clint Henry of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian led a prayer thanking God for Laura's safe return to Idaho, seeking help for her to adjust being home and called this a time of celebration for the church.
The Idaho businesswoman had been in custody since Jan. 29. She was originally charged with kidnapping and criminal association, but those charges were dropped for her and the nine other Americans who were previously released. Silsby was convicted of arranging illegal travel under a 1980 statute restricting movement out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Prosecutor Jean-Serge Joseph said she was convicted and sentenced to the 3 months and 8 days she spent behind bars. Last week, the prosecution had recommended a six-month sentence and she faced a maximum of three years on the charge.
The 40-year-old Silsby told the court earlier she thought the children were orphans whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake. But she lacked the proper papers to remove them from the country at a time when the government was restricting adoptions to prevent child trafficking in the chaos that followed the disaster.
An AP investigation later revealed all the children had at least one living parent, who had turned their children over to the group in hopes of securing better lives for them.
Silsby and others in the group, mostly members of the same Baptist churchin Idaho, insisted they had only come to Haiti to help. They unwittingly helped draw attention to the dark side of the adoption industry in Haiti, where children for many years have been abandoned by their parents or sold into slavery.
In February, a Haitian judge released eight of the Americans after concluding they had not knowingly engaged in any crime. The judge released Charissa Coulter, Silsby's friend and former nanny, in March.
Silsby was held the longest because she organized the venture and prosecutors insisted she knew that she did not have the proper authorization to take the children out of Haiti.