MACHIAS, Maine — A man who was serving as a pastor at a church in Addison and his wife have been arrested on charges of kidnapping and custodial interference after the wife’s two daughters, ages 7 and 12, were found earlier this week living on their own at an Ellsworth motel.
Colin Haag Jr., 34, and his wife, Amanda Haag, 34, were being held Wednesday in Washington County Jail. Colin Haag’s bail was set at $100,000 surety or $25,000 cash. Amanda Haag’s bail was set at $25,000 surety or $5,000 cash. The two, who were arrested Tuesday, also are suspected in alleged thefts from at least one Down East church, according to police.
Washington County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Timothy Tabbutt says the case developed after the biological father arrived in Washington County and asked law enforcement to check on the well being of the girls, according to the Associated Press. Tabbutt says the mother had moved the girls to a hotel to keep them hidden from their father.
Tabbutt says the children are now living with the father, who’s from Myrtle Beach, S.C., and had been looking for them for two years.
The story unfolded earlier this week when a man found wandering the streets of Jonesport, later identified as Colin Haag Sr., told Tabbutt he had been held captive by his son and forced to live in a basement.
Haag Sr. — who was using the alias Carl Davis Sr. — told Tabbutt that his son and daughter-in-law had been moving around the country and forcing him to stay in the basement at each residence.
Haag Sr. then provided information about the children in the Eagle’s Lodge motel in Ellsworth.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Department contacted the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, and officers there went to the motel to check on the two girls. Upon finding them there, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department contacted Maine Department of Health and Human Services officials, who took the two girls into temporary custody.
Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith said Wednesday the children appeared to be OK and had been provided with food by their mother and stepfather while they were at the motel.
Smith said he was not sure how long the children had been there. He said it appeared the Haags had been in eastern Maine since January of this year and that the girls had been in school in the Jonesport area.
According to Smith, police believe the Haags have a pattern of staying in a certain area for a while, until the girls’ biological father figures out where they are, then abruptly moving to another part of the country.
“They had been traveling around, enrolling the children in school under false names,” Smith said.
He said he believed the Haags were close to leaving the area.
“It looks like, to us, they were ready to take off again,” Smith said.
Tabbutt said the Haags are married, but both also were married to other people in other states, having never obtained divorces.
Colin Haag had been representing himself locally as a Baptist preacher, Tabbutt said, although the man never was ordained as a minister.
According to a press release from Smith, the Haags allegedly have traveled through a number of states informing churches that Colin Haag was an ordained minister.
Tabbutt said the Haags may have had interactions with churches in Maine, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The Sheriff’s Department is working with authorities in other states to determine the extent of the Haags’ activity.
“This case has been a doozy,” Tabbutt said Tuesday. “I have spent the last four days working on this.”
A search warrant was issued late Tuesday for the Jonesport home where the Haags had been living, and Smith said evidence recovered included items allegedly stolen from churches.
“This will remain under investigation and additional charges are expected,” Smith said.
Haag Sr. is not being charged with a crime and is at a Hancock County homeless shelter, Smith said.
Congregation members at Columbia Union Church and the Lighthouse Church in Addison said Wednesday that Haag Jr. had provided them with a resume that said, “I stand firm on the Word of God. I am a preacher with a backbone and I preach what the Lord wants me to preach. I do not sugar coat my sermons in fear of offending. I stand true to the Word of God and I do not sway from the Holy Bible. I am a Pastor who is sold-out for Christ.”
Ronie Strout of Jonesport said she was devastated when she discovered last month that Haag may have made off with items from the historic Columbia Union Church.
Strout, the caretaker of the church, said some of the missing items included 15 light bulbs — one out of every light in the church — candle holders, historic records and hymnals, a piano bench, a Communion container, a handmade table and a Bible.
She reported the theft to Tabbutt.
Strout said that once she realized items were missing, she confronted Haag on March 28 and was able to get many of them returned.
“To say that I am upset is one thing, but I am really upset that I was that gullible to be taken in by a man of the cloth,” Strout said this week. “I hope I have learned my lesson. How can a minister steal and still preach and get away with it?”
Strout said Haag also said at various times that he was a U.S. Marine, served in the U.S. Army’s Delta Force and was a Navy SEAL.
“They had been spinning their story so long I think they actually believed it,” Smith said Wednesday. “[Colin Haag] is very smooth and appears unconcerned.
“I think this could end up being massive,” Smith added.
“This is a case of Washington County people wanting to believe the good in other people,” he said.
BDN writer Bill Trotter in Ellsworth and the Associated Press contributed to this report.