Woman arrested in Arizona allegedly abducted daughter in South Bay 25 years ago

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU and wires) -- A woman who allegedly abducted her daughter from her ex-husband more than 25 years ago was arrested Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney said.

Valerie Berry, 56, has been charged with abducting her daughter from Santa Clara County in March 1990, Deputy District Attorney James Cahan said.

Berry, a retired college professor, went under the name Aleks Kelsi Webster when she was arrested today in Phoenix on a $250,000 warrant, Cahan said.

In 1987, Berry abducted her daughter from her husband for three months, then the couple reconciled, Cahan said.

In late 1988, the couple started to file for divorce, during which Berry made contact with Child Protective Services alleging her husband molested their daughter, but did not report it to police, according to Cahan.

An investigation later ruled her allegations had no ground, Cahan said.

She left the county in March 1990 with her daughter, who was a toddler at the time, in violation of a court order that gave the father visitation rights, according to Cahan.

Berry changed her and her daughter's names and Social Security numbers, he said.

Berry fled to multiple states and was most recently found in Phoenix, Cahan said.

Investigators were able to track down Berry earlier this year based on her past identities, social media accounts and other records, Cahan said.

Investigators also found the daughter, who is now 28 years old, in another part of the country, but she is not being identified because she is a victim in the case, Cahan said.

If convicted, Berry can be sentenced at a minimum to probation and community service or at the most three years in prison, he said.

Berry worked and taught at Arizona State University under the name Aleksasha Webster for nearly 10 years, university officials said.

She was a part-time professor at ASU's design school from 2009 to 2013, university officials said.

She was a graduate teaching assistant from 2004 to 2007 and was a part-time coordinator for a research project funded through a grant from 2010 to 2013, according to university officials.