BOISE, Idaho -- The Idaho businesswoman who garnered international attention in January -- after the American group she led into Haiti was arrested on kidnapping charges -- arrived home in Idaho Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm just very glad to be home. I knew this day would come," Laura Silsby said as she entered the Boise airport terminal. "I entrusted myself to my God."
Silsby was accompanied on the flight by her father, John Sander, and her close friend and nanny, Charisa Coulter. Sander, Coulter and Coulter's father, Mel, went to visit Silsby in Haiti on May 2.
"I can finally sleep. It's good to have her home," said Charisa Coulter, who came off the plane with her.
After 3 1/2 months in jail -- 108 days -- Silsby was released Monday. She was convicted of arranging illegal travel but sentenced to time already served.
"It's been a long ordeal. It's been taxing," Mel Coulter said Tuesday morning. "We're happy it's resolved, and life can continue." Silsby is eager to see her children. She has an adult son and two younger children, a 5-year-old daughter and 15-year old son.
"Laura hasn't seen her kids since mid-January. She really wants to spend some quality time with her kids and her family," Mel Coulter said. "The answers to questions that people have been asking will come, but it's not going to be today."
Silsby said the first thing she plans to do is tell her family how much she loves them. She gives thanks to "her God" for bringing her home. She thanks everybody for their prayers.
"God has been with me every step of the way," Silsby said.
Silsby, 40, led a group of Baptists from the United States to Haiti in late January. Members of the group of 10 -- eight from Idaho, one from Texas and one from Kansas -- said they were on a mission of mercy to help children orphaned by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti.
The group tried to transport Haitian children to the Dominican Republic, where they planned to build an orphanage. But on Jan. 29, the group -- and 33 Haitian children on their bus -- were stopped at the border.
All 10 members of the group were jailed and charged with kidnapping. The group included: Charisa Coulter, 24, Kuna, Idaho; Drew Culberth, 34, Topeka, Kan.; Steve McMullin, 56, Twin Falls, Idaho; Silas Thompson, 19, Twin Falls; Paul Thompson, 43, Twin Falls; Jim Allen, 47, Amarillo, Texas; Corinna Lankford, 42, Middleton, Idaho; Nicole Lankford, 18; and Carla Thompson, 53, of Meridian, Idaho.
Eight of the detainees -- all except Silsby and Coulter -- were released Feb. 17. Coulter was released March 8.
When asked about being such a loyal friend to Silsby, Charisa Coulter responded: "I'm giving back to her what she's given to me."
All charges were dropped against nine members of the group, while Silsby was held for further questioning.
Silsby was tried on a charge of arranging illegal travel under a 1980 statute restricting movement out of Haiti signed by then-dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Since she left for Haiti, much has changed in Silsby's personal and business life. Her Web-based business, Personal Shopper, closed. Former employees of the business received a letter dated May 1 from the board of directors, which indicated its intent to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
In late April, Robert Williams, who had represented Silsby in child custody issues, filed a motion to withdraw as her attorney. In late March, the attorney who was representing her and her business, Personal Shopper Inc., in a lawsuit by a former employee, also withdrew.
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