Hope arises for dad in custody battle for daughters taken to Russia

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 20 at 5:18 PM

AUBREY - After two young sisters were taken from North Texas to Russia five years ago by their mother, their father has found new hope to bring them back to the United States.

Pictures paint a good life for the Sigler family in the Denton County town of Aubrey. 

One such image shows Royce Sigler sandwiched between 6-year-old Tanya and 4-year-old Ksenya after a father-daughter dance. Others show the smiling girls in their Halloween costumes and the Sigler's Christmas tree.

But, then came the divorce and on a spring night in 2008, Sigler handed off the girls to their Russian-born mother Katya for a weekend visit.

"The last day I saw my girls was May 29," said Sigler, pausing as he waits for his emotions to pass. "I put Tanya in the car and she was screaming not to go and I told her I would see her Sunday."

But when Sunday came, he learned his estranged wife had taken Tanya and Ksenya to Russia.

"I'd say in the five years I've talked to them two minutes tops, total," he said. "It's been tough. I called every day for the first year-and-a-half. Every single day."

Even though a Texas court gave him custody, he said the U.S. Embassy could offer little help in the Russian legal system. The girls have dual citizenship.

"She threatened me that if I ever showed up in Russia I would be arrested," he said. 

So, he didn't go.

Back in Texas, a warrant waited for Katya for interfering with child custody. The impasse continued until two weeks ago, when the embassy notified Sigler that Katya died of cancer and that the father now has custody in Russia as well.

"After five years, I'm cautiously excited," he said. "I'm still scared. It seems kind of like a dream."

Friends and family quickly raised money on Facebook for transportation and legal problems he may face. The girls' grandmother has vowed not to give them up.

Meanwhile,Tanya and Ksenya have a 1-year-old baby sister waiting for them in Ohio, where Sigler is now a land man for gas exploration. But, he wonders if his older daughters will remember him and the love they shared.

"If they choose not to get on the plane, they don't have to get on the plane," he said. "I just pray to God that doesn't happen. My biggest fear is that I get over there and cannot see and hear my daughters."

Sigler hopes to travel to Russia in July.

Email jdouglas@wfaa.com

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