LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Wheatfield mother who vanished with her two children in 2019 during a bitter custody battle with the father appeared in Niagara County Family Court on Thursday on a warrant for her arrest.

Authorities found Katie Riford, 37, and both of her children in New Mexico, where she assumed a different name and had both kids registered in school. The case had stumped law enforcement for years.

Riford told News 4 on Wednesday night as she was extradited back to Niagara County that she and both of her children are victims of abuse and corruption, and that she will provide evidence of these claims.

“Please, just follow the story, share it,” Riford said while at the airport in Buffalo. “And help me get justice for my children, Olivia and Mason.”

Peter Diarbakerly, the father, has denied the abuse allegations. He has full custody of both children in Massachusetts. His attorney, Randy Margulis, said the children are still getting reacquainted with their father, who they had not seen for three years, and that they are doing better.

Riford is charged with a felony custodial interference charge. She was released on her own recognizance.

In Niagara County Family Court earlier this afternoon, Margulis asked Judge Erin P. DeLabio to add specific restrictions on both protective orders for the children to prohibit Riford from having any form of contact with them.

DeLabio declined to make any immediate decisions on those requests. She said Riford plans to hire an attorney and they can all discuss the father’s concerns at the next hearing on April 26.

“We don’t know a lot of things that might have taken place during the past three-plus years,” DeLabio said. “So, that’s being considered and evaluated right now. To be safe, my client believes that it would be in the best interest of the children to not have any contact, at least until things can be further determined.”

Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti told News 4 Investigates that the abuse allegations made by Riford were investigated and determined to be unfounded. He said he is confused by the corruption allegations.

“These accusations of abuse and the truth will come out, the corruption, I don’t know where all that is coming from,” Filicetti said. “I don’t know what evidence of corruptions the Riford family has. If they’re insinuating that it’s me, it’s baseless. If they’re insinuating that the judge is somehow involved in corruption. to me, they’re putting this out publicly to garner support for her cause.”

Dan Telvock is an award-winning investigative producer and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.