ATHENS, Ga. -- Kevin Viskup will wake up in his own bed in his own home Christmas morning to find brightly wrapped gifts waiting under the tree.
Though such a scene will be played out in countless other homes throughout Athens, just two months ago the 12-year-old didn’t even know in which country he would be waking up.
During a court-allowed visit in July, Kevin was taken by his father, Peter Viskup, to New York, where Viskup used a fraudulently obtained passport to fly his son overseas. Kevin had become an international kidnapping victim.
It took authorities three and a half months to find the boy, following a trail that began in London and led through the Czech Republic, Spain, and finally to the Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa.
“I didn’t know where we were going,” Kevin said. “I forget what he said.”
They’d gone on trips before, and Kevin has great memories of boogie-boarding with his father at the shore in Florida and Alabama.
But Kevin suspected something wasn’t right, especially when he was made to sit on the floorboard while traveling by car, or made to hide in a closet when someone knocked on the door.
“I saw my dad arrested at a store, and that’s when I realized” his father had done something terribly wrong, the boy said.
Kevin’s mother, Andrea Cutts, had full custody of Kevin after a divorce. She not only abided by a court ruling that Viskup be allowed unsupervised visits with his son, but realized the importance of their spending time together.
“I always tell Kevin that he will always be your father, nobody else,” Andrea said earlier this month. “He is a kid and he has to know he has two parents.”
Andrea was hysterical while her son was missing, but she had the support of her new husband, Creighton Cutts. Together, they launched a media and social networking blitz that ultimately resulted in a tip that led authorities to Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. That’s where, on Oct. 13, they located Viskup and his son.
Andrea wasted no time hopping a flight to bring Kevin back to Athens.
“It is so amazing to have him home,” Andrea said. “Kevin is a sweet, sweet child and I very much adore him. I felt like I wanted to die when he was gone, but now that he is home I am laughing all the time and my heart is beating so, so much.”
Kevin is a soft-spoken boy, and speaking to a stranger about his life on the run was difficult. He admitted that he cried about not being able to see his mother, “like, only a little,” and talked about how he missed his best friend, Mark.
Now, back at his home off Danielsville Road, Kevin spends time in a cozy bedroom of his own. He sleeps on the bottom of a double-bunk bed that has a shelf displaying awards from soccer, martial arts and the Boy Scouts.
When not doing school work, Kevin loves to build things, especially with Legos, and playing Roblox, the interactive online game.
Kevin recently delighted in showing a guest a Lego passenger jet he built and a YouTube video of him racing marble-like characters, called Bakugans, on a homemade race track.
When Kevin finally was found, according to Creighton, his stepson seemed confused and disoriented. He spent a week in a Spanish shelter before being reunited with his mother.
But Kevin’s bewilderment faded after he was back in familiar surroundings.
“You could tell was thrilled to be home,” Creighton said. “All of his friends began calling, scheduling times to spend the night at our house.”
July wasn’t the first time Viskup kidnapped Kevin. After he and Andrea divorced in their Czech Republic homeland, Viskup stole his son out of the country in 2005 and brought him to the United States, eventually settling in Georgia.
Andrea followed on a mission to get her son back, and while here she met and later married Creighton, an Athens businessman.
During the two kidnappings, Viskup enrolled his son at different schools, and the boy suffered from the amount of time spent out of the classroom. He attends sixth grade at Clarke Middle School, but should be in seventh grade.
Despite everything, Kevin has found his stride again as an active student and athlete.
“He is doing even better than we were hoping he’d be doing,” Creighton said.
Despite his latest absence from school, Kevin last month brought home an impressive report card that boasted grades mostly in the 90s and 100s. His lowest grade, 89, was in mathematics, his best subject.
That was to be expected, Creighton said, because Kevin had to catch up on complicated equations and formulas. A math tutor from the University of Georgia has been working to bring him up to speed.
Though his father broke federal law — he was charged by the FBI with international parental kidnapping — Kevin loves Viskup very much.
“I hope he will get out of jail soon and we can have time together,” he said.
His mother and stepfather understand what Kevin is going through emotionally.
“He is worried about his dad, who we assume is still awaiting extradition from a Madrid prison to the USA, but Kevin has been talking with a psychologist about decisions, responsibilities and consequences,” Cutts said.
The boy also attends group sessions for children of incarcerated parents.
“The important thing is Kevin recognizes what happened simply was not his fault,” Creighton said. “One of the dangers is kids blame themselves. But Kevin’s father’s decisions are what put all of us in the spot we’re in and Kevin realizes that. “
Having Kevin home in time for Thanksgiving made for a holiday Andrea won’t soon forget, and she expects Christmas will be especially joyous.
“This is a very, very special Christmas,” Andrea said. “So many families worry about money when love is so, so important. What we have, I am so glad for.”