NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- There are new insights into the relationship between Franklin father Christopher Savoie and his two children -- and why his ex-wife claims she abducted them to Japan. The insights come from recordings of phone calls made by the Savoie family.
These recordings, obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates, let you hear a father being a father as Savoie's children vacationed this summer in Japan with their mother.
First, Savoie jokes with 8-year-old Isaac about the existence of Elmo.
Isaac: "He's not alive. It's a puppet." Christopher: "No way." Isaac: (Laughs) "Elmo's a puppet."
Then, he gets on the phone with 6-year-old Rebecca.
Rebecca: (Laughs) Christopher: "What's that? What's the laughing?" Rebecca: "That I put the phone upside down." Christopher: "Uh-oh." Rebecca: (Laughs)
The children were thrust into the middle of an international child custody dispute after their vacation.
That's when their mother, Noriko Savoie, suddenly packed them up and headed back to Japan -- out of the reach of American law.
"I wouldn't want any other human being -- male, female, anything -- to be in my shoes," Christopher Savoie told NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams back in August.
Then, last week, the Franklin father got arrested in Japan after grabbing the children and trying to race police to the nearby U.S. Consulate.
"He's a very good man, and he loves those kids," his current wife, Amy, said.
During a hearing back in March, Williamson County Judge Jim Martin noted that Noriko came to the U.S. knowing that her husband wanted a divorce and that she agreed to live in Tennessee with the children.
Under oath, she testified, "I have never thought about taking [the] children away from their father, never."
But, in a call with Christopher's new wife after the abduction, Noriko spoke of her reasons for taking the children.
Noriko: "U.S. is, it isn't a very nice country. Being here is much more healthier for children than being there." Amy: "No, because Isaac and Rebecca miss playing the guitar with Christopher. They miss swimming in the pool." Noriko: "How do you know? They want to remain here. They're always saying they want to go back to Fukuoka." Amy: "That's a lie and everyone knows it." Noriko: "It's not lie."
Regardless of which parent's right or wrong, one thing is clear: trapped in the middle is a little boy who liked laughing.
Isaac: "I'll bet you $100." Christopher: "No only $5." Isaac and Christopher: (Laughing)
and a little girl who loved singing with her Dad.
Rebecca and Christopher: (Singing) Christopher: "I love you so much, Rebecca. Thank you."
The Savoies recorded the phone calls, they say, as a precaution because the divorce had been so contentious.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates also heard other phone calls in which Christopher cried and begged his ex-in-laws to let him speak to his children -- something that, in the calls we heard, they did not allow.
Prosecutors are expected to decide this week whether they are going to follow through with their case against him -- or let him go and send him back to Tennessee.
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