Lance Sterling Fernandez

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Above Images: Lance, circa 2004


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

  • Missing Since: November 8, 2004 from San Diego, California
  • Classification: Family Abduction
  • Date Of Birth: October 10, 2001
  • Age: 3 years old
  • Height and Weight: 3'3, 38 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Biracial (Asian/Caucasian) male. Brown hair, brown eyes. Lance's nickname is Lancie. He is of Filipino descent.
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    Details of Disappearance

    Lance and his brothers Keoni and Mason were abducted by their mother, Francina Dacanay Fernandez. They were last seen in San Diego, California on November 8, 2004. A photograph and vital statistics for Francina are posted below this case summary. On December 9, 2004, a state warrant was issued for her for kidnapping. On February 4, 2005, a federal warrant was issued for her for international parental kidnapping.

    Francina never married her sons' father, John Lee Smith. Their relationship ended in 2001 and a custody battle began afterwards. Francina accused Smith of abusing the children, but all of her allegations were dismissed. In early November 2004, Francina told Smith she was going to take the boys on a two-week vacation to New Zealand. He told her the trip would be in violation of court orders and contacted his attorney. On November 8, a judge ordered that none of the children could be taken out of the court's jurisdiction by either parent, and that their passports had to be relinquished within 24 hours. The boys' passports were never turned over. Shortly afterwards, Francina abruptly quit her job and left with Lance, Keoni and Mason. They flew from Los Angeles, California to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.

    Smith was able to locate Francina and the boys in Manila and had a plan to come there and take them back. However, Francina learned of his intentions and the plan fell through. He has not seen them since then, although he has been able to obtain some pictures of them through their former school in Manila. In December 2010, Smith filed a lawsuit against Francina's parents, alleging they helped plan and finance the children's abductions.

    The Fernandezes are believed to still be in the Philippines, but the Philippine government has not provided very much assistance in recovering them. Mason, Lance and Keoni's cases remain unsolved. Their father was awarded full custody of them after their abductions.


    Francina Dacanay Fernandez
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    Above Images: Francina Dacanay Fernandez

    Date of Birth: April 29, 1970
    Age: 34 years old
    Height and Weight: 5'3, 100 - 106 pounds
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Asian (Filipina) female. Brown hair, brown eyes. Francina may use the name Francina Dacanay. She was employed as a paralegal in 2004. She is of Filipino descent, has dual American/Philippine citizenship, and speaks English and Tagalog.


    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    San Diego County District Attorney's Office


    Source Information
    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    California Attorney General's Office
    Federal Bureau of Investigation
    United States Senator Dianne Feinstein
    The Los Angeles Times
    10 News


    Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004.

    Last updated December 11, 2010; details of disappearance updated.

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