Michael Long, 42, told the Daily Mail Tuesday that he was willing to go to jail to “protect” the daughter he’s been accused of taking.
“I’d absolutely go to jail to protect Sophie,” he told the outlet. “I’d do anything for her.”
A day later, Texas authorities issued a warrant following his alleged failure to show up in court.
The Daily Mail reported that Sophie appeared “happy and at ease with her father.”
And he said it wasn’t about the ongoing custody battle, but about protecting the child and getting a jury trial for himself, something the girl’s mother reportedly opposed in court.
“These high conflict custody cases – this wasn’t about getting into a custody case,” he said. “This was about getting justice for my daughter.”
Long was accused of faking child abuse claims against Sophie’s mother, Kelly Long, last year. Then he and Sophie vanished in July. He does not have custodial rights, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Michael Long created a viral online crowdfunding campaign in 2020 amid a battle with his ex-wife Kelly Long over the custody of their three children.
The campaign included a harrowing, 20-minute YouTube video titled #standwithsophie that showed the girl in apparent distress and saying she did not want to visit with her mother.
The mother denied the abuse allegations, and last year a court-appointed amicus attorney assigned to represent their children’s best interests described the video as “self-produced” and “heavily edited.” The attorney recommended that Kelly Long be granted sole legal custody.
The attorney also claimed the online fundraiser had raised more than $ 200,000 based on fraudulent accusations against Sophie’s mother. When accessed in July it had been closed to new donations.
Sophie is 5 feet tall and weighs around 95 pounds, according to authorities. She has blue eyes, blonde hair and a scar from a burn on one of her arms.
Michael Long is 6 feet, four inches tall, weighs about 205 pounds and has green eyes and blonde hair.
They were last seen in Seguin, Texas, on July 12. It was not immediately clear where they met up with the Daily Mail reporter. The outlet only described it as a “neutral” location.
Investigators in July said they believed Long could be trying to take his daughter to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Mexico or Argentina. He may have been driving a white 2010 Ford Edge SUV or a gray van with tinted windows and a roof rack.