When Amina and Belel Kandil were picked up by their father, Ahmed Kandil, it was supposed to be a short trip over the weekend. At least, that’s what the mother, Rebecca Downey, thought. However, a lack of contact in the following days worried her. Netflix’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries: Abducted by a Parent’ charts the events leading up to Amina and Belel’s disappearance and Rebecca’s quest to find them. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Rebecca Downey?
Rebecca Downey, who grew up in Berlin, Germany, met Ahmed when she was about 28-years-old. Despite coming from different religious backgrounds, they seemed to uphold the same values, leading to a relationship. The couple married after a couple of years and had Amina and Belel while Rebecca was attending medical school. Eventually, they settled in Virginia. However, over time, the relationship began to crumble. On the show, Rebecca stated that Ahmed began changing after he lost his job, and she eventually decided to end the marriage. They separated in June 2013.
At the time, Rebecca and Ahmed had a shared custody agreement. But it quickly became clear to Rebecca that Ahmed was moving in a more conservative direction regarding Amina and Belel’s upbringing, which she didn’t like. At the time of the incident, Rebecca lived in James City County, Virginia, and worked as an Anesthesiologist. Ahmed picked the kids up on August 28, 2014, under the pretext of traveling to Toronto, Canada, for a short trip; they were supposed to be back on September 1, which was Amina’s birthday.
Rebecca couldn’t reach the kids after that point, only receiving a text from Ahmed on August 29, seemingly confirming they would return on the planned date. However, Rebecca was very concerned by September 2, 2014, because she hadn’t heard from Ahmed or the kids. Furthermore, that was the day Amina and Belel were supposed to be in school. But when she called, she learned they hadn’t shown up. At the time, Rebecca couldn’t leave work, so she called the authorities and checked with hospitals in Toronto, wondering whether they had been in an accident.
The FBI got involved soon after that, and the authorities learned that Ahmed and the kids had never traveled to Canada. Flight records indicated they flew out of New York City, New York, to Boryspil, Ukraine, and then Ataturk, Turkey. The investigation also revealed that Ahmed possibly planned everything; he had sent camping equipment and boots for the kids overseas before the trip and had attended a survivalist camp.
Rebecca pushed hard for answers, even hiring private investigators. But she couldn’t get a lot of leads apart from learning that Amina’s email had been accessed in Hatay, Turkey, in December 2014. In September 2015, Rebecca also received an email she believed was from Ahmed. It talked about the kids being happy and safe, which relieved her. But she still didn’t know where they were. Upon getting in touch with a detective in Turkey, Rebecca learned that the email was traced to an internet cafe in Hatay.
Where is Rebecca Downey Today?
Ever since the disappearance, Rebecca has pushed for answers. In an interview in May 2019, she said that the person she was around Amina and Belel didn’t exist anymore. Rebecca also resorted to writing a journal daily, putting down everything she wanted to tell her kids. Stacey Sullivan, the FBI agent working on the case, said, “We never know what they’ve been told or what they believe now, having been separated from her for so long.”
Stacey added, “So, it’s important for me, also, for them to know that their mother never gave up and that they can have communication again with her and rebuild that relationship that was taken from them.” Rebecca has maintained a website with her personal information in hopes of hearing from anyone who knew about her kids’ whereabouts. The authorities believed they could be somewhere in Egypt or Turkey.
Despite the tremendous pain Rebecca has to deal with every day, she has done her best to carry on with her life. After receiving her MD degree, she did her residency in Anesthesiology. Rebecca has been working for North American Partners in Anesthesia since June 2011 and has held various roles within the organization. She started as an Anesthesiologist before becoming the Chief Anesthesiologist, and finally, the Regional Vice President for Clinical Services in the Southeast Region. Rebecca has held that position since June 2020 and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Read More: Where is Ahmed Kandil Now?