UPDATE: A petition asking the White House to engage the Russian government in helping an East Texas native get his American-born daughters back to the U.S. has been set up.
Royce Sigler, who attended Spring Hill High School in Longview, is trying to get 100,000 signatures by August 22 to get a response from the White House and President Barack Obama. As of 8:45 a.m., there had been 309 signatures.
Sigler now lives in Canton, Ohio, but he was living in Denton County in May 2008 when he was awarded full custody of daughters Tanya and Ksenya Sigler by a Texas judge. But Sigler's ex-wife, the girls' mother, kidnapped the girls and absconded to Sochi, Russia. The mother died two months ago, but the girls' grandmother, Yelena Kosheleva, has kidnapped them again, hiding from Russian authorities who have issued a warrant for her arrest.
To go to the petition, click here.
LONGVIEW/GREGG COUNTY (KYTX) - The Russian term for grandmother is babushka. But the maternal babushka of Royce Sigler's daughters has kidnapped Tanya and Ksenya Sigler. Since her daughter's death two months ago, babushka has kept the girls hidden from their father and Russian authorities. But she has spoken with Russian press, saying the girls should stay with her.
Russian newspapers also report the babushka is saying Royce Sigler isn't a good father, and that he beat the girls with a belt.
"That's all she can do is trash me," Sigler said.
A Texas judge saw Royce as a good, fit father and awarded him full custody of the girls before their mother kidnapped them in Denton County in 2008. But he knows words can sometimes sway minds.
"Any stories of abuse, it's quite upsetting. Because they're not true. The girls would tell you they're not true," he said.
Royce's story even reached USA Today.