1. News

Former CentCom major sentenced to 3 years for kidnapping daughter

Andrew Haley Morcombe (inset), a former major attached to Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, , was setenced Thursday to 3 years in federal prison for international parental kidnapping in the 2014 abduction of his daughter. Morcombe, 51, claimed he took the girl, in violation of a custody agreement with his ex-wife, to protect her from alleged abuse. But federal prosecutors said there was no evidence that such abuse occurred. [Andrew Morcombe photo courtesy of Morcombe]
Published Jul. 26, 2018

TAMPA — A daughter's first day of school, her first lost tooth. These are memories that parents treasure.

They're also ones Jane Lempero missed out on when her ex-husband kidnapped their daughter and held her in Dubai for two years.

On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Andrew Haley Morcombe to three years in prison for international parental kidnapping.

Morcombe, 51, kept the 5-year-old out of the U.S. from 2014 to 2016 — violating a court order — by forging travel documents.

"I had to fight to be a mother to my own child," Lempera said at the sentencing.

Morcombe, a former major in the U.S. Air Force, previously worked at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

The two met in Florida in 2002 and married four years later. They welcomed their daughter in 2008.

The marriage dissolved three years later. But soon after Lempera filed for divorce, Morcombe began filing court petitions alleging his wife had physically abused him. All were deemed unfounded, and the pair agreed to joint custody of the girl.

Morcombe relocated to Germany for work, and the two ironed out an agreement that allowed him to see his daughter there on a temporary basis.

In 2013, while Lempera was vacationing in Europe with her now-husband and the girl was staying with a close acquaintance of the mother, Morcombe flew from Australia to Florida and told authorities Lempera had disappeared without explanation.

He took their daughter back to Australia, alleging sexual misconduct by Lempera's now-husband. A court ruled there was no evidence, and Lempera regained custody of the girl in October 2013.

In 2014, despite a court agreement that the parents would share the daughter's time within the United States, Morcombe picked up the girl for a regularly scheduled visit and took her to Dubai, using a fraudulently obtained passport.

In 2016, as Morcombe and the girl were flying from Germany to London, a missing person's notice led to them being stopped. The girl was returned to her mother, and Morcombe was arrested.

A jury convicted him of international parental kidnapping in April.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven sentenced Morcombe to three years in prison, the maximum allowed under the law. She also ordered one year of probation, $95,000 in fines and $90,000 in restitution.

Andrew Morcombe said he recognized the impact of his actions, and that he would now fight for his daughter through legal means. He has retained an attorney for the civil side of the pair's dispute, which is ongoing.

Morcombe's attorney, Bjorn Brunvald, said they intend to appeal the conviction.

Scriven said Morcombe has shown the "most limited levels of remorse possible," and that his actions took away years and memories that can't be retrieved for the mother and daughter.

"If the court could, it would exceed the maximum sentence," the judge said.

Bre Bradham can be reached at and (803) 460-9001.


  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. JAMAL THALJI  |  Tampa Bay Times
    John Clark used a shotgun to kill his mother and another man. Then he returned to the crime scene with a shotgun, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  3. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  4. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  5. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company.
  6. Reclaimed water rates are increasing 6 percent in St. Petersburg.
    Potable, waste and reclaimed water fees will all increase. So will garbage fees, though the stormwater fee will drop for some.
  7. Joshua Russell, 26, faces a charge of aggravated manslaughter, according to deputies. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    A dose of kratom caused the caretaker to fall asleep for hours inside a hot minivan with the disabled man in the back seat, investigators said.
  8. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announces federal grants Friday that will equip at least 600 officers with body cameras. CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Charlie Frago
    Mayor Jane Castor announces a nearly $600,000 Department of Justice grant Friday.
  9. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri spoke Friday about a child protection investigator who was arrested on charges of falsifying reports. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Josh Solomon
    It’s the second time in two years a Pinellas child protection investigator has faced falsification charges.
  10. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    The Challenger K-8 student didn’t have access to a gun, deputies said.