With a witness unavailable to testify, a preliminary hearing was postponed Monday for a Riverside man accused with his father of abducting the baby daughters of his live-in girlfriend and fleeing with them to Utah, where the men were apprehended two days later.

Joshua Adle, 24, and Frank Wayne Marks, 57, were arrested in early August after a Utah state trooper stopped them in a vehicle for which law enforcement officials had been searching.

The defendants are both charged with two counts each of kidnapping and child endangerment, as well as one count of assault and a charge of battery on a domestic partner.

One of the witnesses slated to testify at the hearing before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Kellogg notified the prosecution that he would not be able to make it, even after the hearing was delayed four hours, prompting the judge to reschedule the matter to Jan. 14 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

An intervening court conference is set for Dec. 16 to make sure all sides are on track.

Each defendant is being held in lieu of $750,000 bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

The abduction case drew national attention when the Riverside Police Department opened its investigation on July 31.

According to court papers, late on the night of July 30, Adle and his then-girlfriend of two years, Sherry Yonko, got into an argument about their relationship that escalated into an alleged physical attack on the woman, who fled their house at 3181 Grace St. to de-escalate the situation.

During the victim’s brief absence, Adle allegedly snatched her daughters, then-18-month-old Darla Yonko and then-8-month-old Emma Yonko, placing them in a Dodge van and fleeing the residence, according to police.

Detective Chris Vaughan wrote in an arrest warrant affidavit that the mother immediately phoned police for help, culminating in a statewide Amber Alert to notify other law enforcement agencies about the alleged kidnapping.

Vaughan said he and other investigators initiated contact with Adle’s parents, who were in Michigan, mainly speaking with Marks, who verified “he had been in communication with his son, that he didn’t know where they were, but insisted that the children were safe with their `father.”’

According to the detective, it remains unclear whether Adle actually fathered the girls; Yonko told police he did not.

Vaughan said he told Marks during a July 31 call that the tots were considered “missing and endangered” and the only way to resolve the matter was “the safe and immediate return of the children,” according to the affidavit.

Marks was allegedly intractable, stating it was a “family matter” and “there was no need for law enforcement to be involved,” court papers stated.

The alleged kidnapping gained wider attention as concerns grew about the welfare of the children, and Marks remained in contact with Vaughan, saying he and his wife intended to “return the children” themselves, though the details were vague, according to the lawman.

He said detectives ultimately determined that Marks was allegedly playing for time, offering empty assurances to keep police in limbo while his son fled across the country.

Photographs and other information about Adle and the girls were supplied to law enforcement agencies nationwide, as well as a description of the possible getaway vehicle.

On the evening of Aug. 1, a Utah Department of Public Safety officer spotted Adle at the wheel of a white van and stopped it on Interstate 15 in Cedar City, where Adle, Marks and his wife, Angela, were taken into custody without incident.

Darla and Emma were found in the back of the van, “dirty, tired and hungry,” Vaughan said. They were reunited with their mother a few hours later.

Prosecutors initially only filed charges against Adle. However, Vaughan alleged it was later confirmed that Marks had arranged to fly with his wife to Las Vegas, where they rendezvoused with their son, rented a van at McCarran International Airport and all headed east together.

In mid-September, the detective submitted his case against Marks to the District Attorney’s Office, and an amended criminal complaint was filed naming the dad as a co-defendant. There was no word on why Adle’s mother was not charged.

Neither Adle or Marks has documented prior felony convictions in California.

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