Explain situation …

Eventually, we ended up in Salt Lake City where I felt that the justice there couldn’t be as bad as Montana’s. It was here that I learned just how serious things had become. I was still confused as to why the system couldn’t figure out the injustice that had occurred. It became obvious that many of the main characters in my case where frantically trying to “save face” by making me out to be someone and to have committed something I did not.

I decided to turn myself into the authorities, but only after I told my story to the media in order to put pressure on “the system” to give me a fair hearing.

I talked to the Salt Lake Tribune, a local Utah paper, who interviewed me and ran my story. I soon found out that the legal system despises the media, unless they serve their purposes; and the media cooperates with the legal system as much as possible to stay out of trouble with “the system”.

Why should I continue to run when I am not guilty of anything but protecting my rights as a free, United States, parent? I trusted that “the system” would treat me fairly and understand my actions. I did not want to run any more. But, had I known beforehand what was going to happen after I turned myself in, i.e., how the system works to protect its own and punish all those who stand up to it, I would have had reason to take my family and run forever.



After I had taken Joshua back from the State of Montana and proceeded to run, Paula called my relatives in Utah and perpetuated lies that has destroyed her credibility with many to this day.

She called some of my brothers and told them that I had kidnapped Joshua and that I had gone crazy. She continued that the authorities were desperately looking for me and that she thought I might come to Utah and seek refuge with some of my relatives.


She continued claiming that I could be armed and dangerous and could possibly harm members of my own family.

I previously discussed in chapter five how my own father turned against me and began to persecute me. After my father received a call from Paula informing him of Joshua’s abduction, he very soon thereafter left for Montana to aid Paula in her cause. My father figured I had flipped out and that his grandchildren were in danger.

My dad proceeded to Kalispell were he spoke with Paula and Brittany. After his conversation with Brittany, my father began to doubt the allegations against Jackie and me. Notwithstanding his doubts, he gave Oleson $500 to aid Paula and now him, as a party to the cause, in that he was concerned for the welfare of his grandchildren, and wanted custody taken away from me.

My father is an ex-policeman and a very intelligent individual. Even though he didn’t understand me and had estranged himself from me, he felt he needed to do his own investigation. He went to Ravalli County, did an investigation and became pretty upset with the Ladenburgs and their attorney. He found out that I was being railroaded and persecuted beyond anything he had yet witnessed being involved for over 25 years in the legal system. He called up Oleson, told him to stop the case against me, pay him back his retainer, and send all the confidential information which he had provided the case against me back to him.

Oleson was a proud attorney who didn’t like to be told what to do. He refused to cooperate with my father. The Ladenburgs got very upset they had lost the help of my father and from that day forward, have called him a liar, manipulator, and many other words that would be up for censoring.

Even though my father didn’t agree with my religious views, he wanted the truth to be known. If I had been guilty of any crime, my father would have let me be punished. But seeing that I had been abused far worse than he ever persecuted me, he decided to do all he could to help me.

I have included his statement which he prepared for his attorney to be presented to the court, as appendix ?. Though I disagree with my father in many ways today, I can honestly say that his statement presented in the appendix is straightforward and truthful. However, his accusations against the Ladenburgs are merely his opinion of them and not necessarily the truth.

After I turned myself in and my siblings were able to hear my side of the story, they immediately determined that their fears about me were simply false accusations made from Paula’s wild imagination. Some of them never believed them for a moment.

My eldest brother, Mike, who is married to Paula’s eldest sister Teena, was another story. Though I had never done anything to Mike or his family, he hated me and felt that I was trying to disrupt his family. Mike was in a hard spot. If he took my side, he would loose his wife who would take his kids away. Being a staunch Mormon, and me being an ex-Mormon, was all that was needed for Mike to make his stand. However, I trust that my big brother will see things a little different when he has the facts presented to him, so that he can make a better judgment not based on religious bigotry. It is sad to admit that Mike, who was once my idol, and I will never share the closeness that two brothers should, just because of the “wrath of his wife”, something Mike will avoid even at the peril of any other relationship, or truth for that matter.


My father and sisters arranged bail for me and I was soon free to get my case together and fight the injustice that had taken place.

It is nice to have one’s family backing one in this sort of situation, but it would have been even nicer had the filial feelings stayed in the heart where they belong instead of in the mouth where they can cause tremendous pain and sorrow for a family. For it wasn’t too long after the charges were dropped against me, that my father again turned against me and continues to persecute me because of religion to this day.

Salt Lake Tribune Articles below:


Man Charged With Kidnapping Son in Montana Surrenders in S.L.

Author(s): Jon Ure SLTribune Date: August 31, 1991 Page: B1 Section: Northwest

A man charged with kidnapping his son from protective custody in Montana turned himself in to police Friday after telling The Salt Lake Tribune that corrupt influences in Montana forced him to take his child and run from the law for the past 21/2 months.

Christopher M. Nemelka, 29, talked about the June 13 abduction of his son, Josh, 5, and then asked a reporter to take him to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office to surrender on fugitive charges. He was in custody late Friday.

Mr. Nemelka, a Utah native who was West High School’s senior-class president in 1980, has worked as a gardener in the Salt Lake area for the past two months. His current wife, Jacqueline, is pregnant and is hiding in the area with the boy, but Mr. Nemelka would not divulge her whereabouts since she is also charged with kidnapping in Montana. The couple have two children of their own.

If convicted, the charges carry maximum penalties of not less than 2 years nor more than 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine, according to Ravalli County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Henne. Deputy Henne said Montana will ask Utah to extradite Mr. Nemelka.

A judge ordered custody of Josh and daughter Brittany, 7, to the Montana Division of Family Services. Mr. Nemelka claimed that order came as a result of pressure applied by the influential family he married into in Montana.

Saying his former wife “knew that those kids would be well taken care of,” Mr. Nemelka was granted custody of the children in a 1986 divorce from Paula Blades Nemelka, now the wife of Carl Ladenburg, Columbia Falls, Mont.

Four years later, Mr. Nemelka moved his new family to Victor, Mont., so that Josh and Brittany could visit and be close with their mother.

His ex-wife, Paula Ladenburg, said Friday she would not comment on the case on advice of her attorney, James Oelson. Mr. Oelson also would not comment.

Prior to the divorce, things began to unravel when the couple disagreed on how the children were being raised, he said, calling the disagreements largely religious.

Mr. Nemelka, a former security guard for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Salt Lake Temple, said he became disillusioned with the church when he discovered what he called documents locked up to hide the truth from church members.

This caused his divorce, he said. The former missionary to Argentina said he began to publicly voice his dismay with the LDS Church, leading to dissension within his family.

Earlier this year, he said, the children’s mother took the children from his home in Victor. After being subdued by deputies and later, while sorting out the problem at the sheriff’s office in Hamilton, Mr. Nemelka said his ex-wife’s family obtained a court order taking custody from Mr. Nemelka and putting the children in the care of Montana’s Division of Family Services until abuse allegations were investigated.

Deputy Henne substantiated that the children were taken from Mr.

Nemelka at that point. He said that as of Friday no abuse charges had been filed.

Four days later, Mr. Nemelka went to the DFS office and, pushing a DFS employee out of his way, took Josh, the complaint alleges. Mr.

Nemelka said Brittany told him she wished to live with her mother.

He left her there.

Mr. Nemelka fled Montana with Josh, his wife and their two children and drove to Idaho Falls. They later came to Salt Lake City, where he has been hiding until Friday.

“I have been on the lam only to protect my child,” Mr. Nemelka said prior to being booked into jail.

Christopher Nemelka’s father, Mike, a former Bountiful City Police officer, said Friday the matter was a simple custodial interference case and that his son should never have been charged with a felony.

“The only reason they filed a criminal charge was that he got away from them,” said Mike Nemelka, whose brothers include the late Carl Nemelka, a former Salt Lake County attorney, and Dick Nemelka, a basketball player with the Utah Stars.

“Chris originally did not take the kids. His ex-wife did,” Mike Nemelka said. “Chris is well aware of the laws.”

Christopher Nemelka said he feels the Ladenburg family’s influence in Ravalli County, pitted against Christopher’s religious views and and social status, allowed authorities to bully the children away illegally.

He said he contacted The Tribune because he fears he will not get a fair hearing for his side of the story if he is extradited to face the charges in Montana.

(c) 1991 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.



Author(s): Jon Ure THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE SLTribune Date: September 7, 1991 Page: B1 Section: Local Regional

Christopher Nemelka sent his son into hiding Friday after he was ordered to surrender the boy to his ex-wife. Third District Judge David Young ordered Mr. Nemelka to surrender Joshua, 5, or face jail for contempt of court.

Judge Young’s order dovetailed one signed Aug. 30 by Flathead County, Mont., District Judge Leif B. Erickson giving custody to Paula Blades Ladenburg, Columbia Falls, Mont., the biological mother of Joshua and Brittany Nemelka, 7.

Judge Erickson’s order reversed their original 1986 Utah divorce decree that granted full custody of the children to Mr. Nemelka. Mr. Nemelka claims religious differences caused the divorce.

“Joshua is out of Salt Lake City, but he is still in the state,” Mr. Nemelka said. The boy is with Mr. Nemelka’s wife, Jacqueline, and their two children. Jacqueline Nemelka also faces kidnap charges.

He claims Judge Young’s order was illegally obtained by attorney Jo Carol Nesset-Sale, representing Mrs. Ladenburg. He said the order was signed while he was being arraigned on the fugitive warrant, making it impossible to answer allegations that guided Judge Young’s decision.

“That is totally bogus,” Ms. Nesset-Sale said. She said she was not required to give Mr. Nemelka the documents, but did so as a courtesy so he could surrender the child and not be arrested.

Mr. Nemelka was arraigned on a fugitive warrant from Montana on charges he kidnapped Joshua June 13 and fled Montana. Third Circuit Judge Dennis Fuchs set a hearing for extradition for Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m.

After the hearing, Mr. Nemelka was served papers provided by Ms. Nesset-Sale.

Ms. Nesset-Sale explained to Mr. Nemelka that failure to surrender Joshua would result in civil contempt penalties, including

imprisonment, until he complies with the order.

“You no longer are the legal custodian of the children,” Ms. Nesset- Sale told Mr. Nemelka after he argued the order was not legal since he was not notified that a custodial hearing and order were pending.

Ms. Nesset-Sale said his presence was not required for the order since Mr. Nemelka had “intentionally hidden” both children from their natural mother since 1987, shortly after he was granted custody.

Mr. Nemelka said four years after the divorce he moved to Montana so that Mrs. Ladenburg would be able to visit and become acquainted with her children. He vowed to fight the custody order.

After the confrontation, Mr. Nemelka tearfully told me, “I will surrender Josh.” “This hurts . . . hurts bad,” wept Mr. Nemelka outside the court. “All I wanted was to give them [the children] a good family.

“The system don’t like people like me. They like people who are rich,” he added.

At that time he said to me that he would surrender Joshua to his mother, and “I’m going to stay out of their [the children’s] lives so they will learn basic family structure.”

Mr. Nemelka lamented: “What is wrong with America? The courts are destroying the family. The wicked prevail in this world but only God has the ability to punish the unrighteous. My ex-wife is not a bad mother,” he said. “But she doesn’t understand the laws of God.

“I came to the justice system [today] in hopes justice would be done. My only concern is my boy, Josh, and his feelings. And now his heart is going to be ripped out.”

Friday afternoon, after conferring with attorneys he refused to name since, he said, he had not yet retained them, he decided to hide Joshua. Mr. Nemelka will hide until Monday, when he returns to court with his attorneys to challenge the latest custody orders.

Ms. Nesset-Sale said, “We will use all means at our disposal to have the order of the court enforced. I don’t think he fully comprehends the legal proceedings that have been part of this matter.”

Mr. Nemelka was arrested Aug. 30 by Salt Lake County Sheriff’s deputies after turning himself in to me.

With Joshua, he had been running with his wife, Jacqueline, and their two children from Montana authorities since June 13 when he allegedly abducted Joshua from Montana’s Division of Family Services.

Joshua and sister Brittany were in custody of DFS in Hamilton, Mont., after Mrs. Ladenburg’s family attorneys obtained a court order alleging that Mr. Nemelka and his wife had been abusing the children.

That followed an incident in which Mrs. Ladenburg allegedly took the children from the care of Jacqueline Nemelka at their Victor, Mont., home, and was later subdued by area lawmen. While that matter was being sorted through, DFS received the order to take the children into protective custody.

On the night of June 13, Mr. Nemelka said he went to DFS to say goodbye to his children and took Joshua with him. He left Brittany, he said, when she expressed the desire to stay with Mrs. Ladenburg.

After running for more than two months, he decided to give himself up, he said.

(c) 1991 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.



Author(s): Jon Ure SLTribune Date: September 26, 1991 Page: B1 Section: Local Regional

Accused kidnapper Christopher Nemelka, a native Utahn, was in his third day of a hunger strike in jail Wednesday after turning himself in to authorities Monday in Ravalli County, Mont. Ravalli County Undersheriff Ron Fisher said Mr. Nemelka’s bail was set at $75,000. Christopher’s father, Mike Nemelka of Bountiful, said Wednesday he attempted to pay the bail but Christopher refused it, opting instead for the hunger strike.

“He hasn’t eaten since Monday. I’m getting a little worried about him,” the elder Nemelka said. “But you know Chris. He’s got strong beliefs.”

“According to him, he’s on a hunger strike,” responded Undersheriff Fisher. “We don’t have any way to monitor that because he’s not in isolation. He looked too healthy to me when I had him in court yesterday.”

Mr. Nemelka turned himself in Aug. 30 in Salt Lake City after fleeing with his son, Josh, 5, from the Montana Division of Family Services in Hamilton, Mont., on June 13. After an interview with a Salt Lake Tribune reporter, Mr. Nemelka asked the reporter to take him to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office to end his fugitive status.

He was booked and released on bail the following day. When he appeared for a hearing, he was served with papers notifying him that his ex-wife, Paula Blades Ladenburg, was awarded legal custody of Josh.

Shortly after that, Mr. Nemelka sent current wife, Jacqueline, their two children and Josh into hiding. Their whereabouts remained secret Wednesday.

Mr. Nemelka was awarded custody of Josh when he and Ms. Ladenburg were divorced in Salt Lake City in 1986, but earlier this year Mrs. Ladenburg’s family obtained a court order that claimed the Nemelkas were abusing Josh and his sister, Brittany, who were turned over to the Montana Division of Family Services. No abuse charges have been filed.

On June 13, Mr. Nemelka went to the Montana Division of Family Services and took Josh. He said Josh’s sister, Brittany, wanted to stay in Montana so he left her. For several months, Mr. Nemelka hid out in Salt Lake County working odd jobs until he turned himself in.

The Ladenburg family has refused to comment on the case, but Mr. Nemelka’s father, Mike, said Wednesday he will go before 3rd Circuit Hearing Commissioner Michael Evans Thursday at 3 p.m. in an attempt to gain temporary custody of Josh and Brittany until the kidnap charge is resolved.

Christopher Nemelka said his divorce from Mrs. Ladenburg was the culmination of differences over religion.

(c) 1991 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.



Author(s): Jon Ure SLTribune Date: September 27, 1991 Page: B2 Section: Local Regional

A court order requiring Christopher Nemelka to surrender his son, Josh, to his natural mother was expanded Thursday, ordering anyone knowing the child’s whereabouts to give up the boy. Third District Judge John Rokich signed the order on a motion by attorney Jo Carol Nesset-Sale, who represents Josh’s natural mother, Paula Blades Ladenburg, Columbia Falls, Mont.

Mr. Nemelka, 29, is in Ravalli County Jail, Hamilton, Mont. He surrendered to police there Monday.

After the hearing before Judge Rokich, Ms. Nesset-Sale said she believes Mike and Gloria Nemelka are “aiding and abetting a kidnapping . . . I think they will make every effort to ensure Josh is not found.”

Mr. Nemelka admitted taking the boy from Montana’s Division of Family Services June 13 after a custody feud over Josh and his sister, Brittany.

Mr. Nemelka’s current wife, Jacqueline Nemelka, also charged with kidnapping, is in hiding with Josh and her two children by Mr. Nemelka.

Mike and Gloria Nemelka appeared at the hearing asking to intervene in the case and be granted temporary custody of Brittany and Josh. Judge Rokich said he did not believe they had standing to intervene but he refused to deny their petition.

After the hearing, Mike Nemelka said during the 2 1/2 months Christopher was hiding in the Salt Lake area, “Chris obtained sanctuary from the LDS Church. They are well aware of what is going on. I won’t say any more than that today.”

“I have never heard of sanctuary,” said Don LeFevre, spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

(c) 1991 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.