Federal hearing begins for man connected to international kidnapping case

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Eighty people sit in the Honorable Richard Arcara’s federal courtroom, anxious to see who will be among the jurors selected to hear the case against Philip Zodhiates.

He’s the Virginia businessman connected to an international kidnapping case that has made headlines around the world.  A grand jury indicted Zodhiates on conspiracy and international parental kidnapping. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case stems from a 2009 kidnapping incident where Zodhiates allegedly helped Lisa Miller take her daughter, Isabella, from their home state, Virginia, to Canada via the Peace Bridge. It is believed the mother and daughter then boarded a plane to Central America.

Lisa Miller was in the midst of a custody dispute with her former partner — Janet Jenkins, when the alleged kidnapping happened.

The pair were married in Vermont in 2000; Isabella was conceived via artificial insemination in 2002; the couple split in 2003.

Before dissolving her union with Jenkins, Miller became a conservative Christian and renounced her homosexuality.

According to the Government’s timeline, Miller turned to the Mennonite community in Virginia for help and that’s where she came in contact with Zodhiates.

He’s one of the two men believed to have help Miller and Isabella get to Nicaragua.

Miller and her daughter are believed to be in the Central American country still but haven’t been heard from since September 2009.

The case is set to last about two and a half weeks.

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