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Press Release

Iowa City Woman Sentenced to 36 Months in Federal Prison International Parental Kidnapping

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Iowa

DAVENPORT, Iowa – An Iowa City woman was sentenced on November 20, 2023, to three years in federal prison for International Parental Kidnapping.

According to public court documents, Kira K. Zielinski, 49, filed for divorce from her husband in 2020. During the divorce proceedings, the Iowa District Court of Johnson County issued orders granting joint legal custody of a shared child to Zielinski and her husband and establishing a joint custody schedule. In February 2022, Zielinski took the child and drove from Iowa to California and across the Mexican border. Zielinski remained in Mexico with the child until November 2022 when she was taken into custody while attempting to reenter the United States. In July 2023, Zielinski was found guilty by a United States District Judge following a stipulated trial.

After completing her term of imprisonment, Zielinski will be required to serve one year of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.

United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement. This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Iowa City Police Department.


MacKenzie Tubbs
Public Information Officer 

Updated November 22, 2023