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Father of Claire Cooney 'overwhelmed with joy' to bring her home to Perham

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Claire Cooney2 / 2

A Perham father is being reunited with his daughter after he says the 6-year old was taken by her mother.

The little girl was found more than 1,100 miles away.

Claire hasn't been to school in almost a month and it's been 46 days since Cooney last saw her.

Cooney said this is the start of giving Claire her childhood back.

"I'm just happy and relieved that this nightmare has come to an end," he said.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy. This is the happiest day of my life," he said.

Cooney hired a private investigator after looking for weeks for Claire himself without any luck.

Ten days later, on Sunday, March 12, the investigator found Claire in Tennessee.

"I was not going to give up," Cooney said.

A store owner spotted Claire with her mother, Miranda Cooney, and the mother's boyfriend after recognizing the trio from a flyer, ending Brian Cooney's nightmare.

"It was stressful and nerve-wracking, and I'm just happy and relieved that Claire has been found," Cooney said.

Checking in and getting through customs so he can fly to Tennessee to get Claire marks the start of a happier chapter.

"The reality of what I'm doing is definitely starting to hit me," Cooney said. "The anticipation is just really getting exciting."

He said his main plan is for Claire to re-enter her childhood.

"If someone would've told me that Claire was in Antarctica, I would've hired an eskimo to go get her," Cooney said. "I would have hunted for Claire until the end of the world, if that's what it took."

Miranda Cooney and Brian Cooney shared custody when Claire was taken. Miranda Cooney can't see Claire now due to a temporary order of protection.

Cooney's lawyer said no charges have been filed against Miranda Cooney.