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Freed from Haiti, missionary returns 'with mixed emotions'

American missionary Charisa Coulter leaves a Port-au-Prince police station on Monday.
American missionary Charisa Coulter leaves a Port-au-Prince police station on Monday.
  • NEW: Last group member in custody says she expects to be released soon
  • Charisa Coulter is ninth member of American group to be released
  • Coulter was one of 10 Americans accused in Haiti kidnapping case
  • Group accused of trying to illegally remove children from Haiti after earthquake

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- After more than a month in a Haitian jail, an American missionary was free Monday night, looking forward to a hot shower and a long night in bed on home soil.

But Charisa Coulter's heart remains in Haiti, her father said, because her best friend, Laura Silsby is now alone behind bars.

"She came back with mixed emotions," Mel Coulter told CNN affiliate WSVN in Miami, Florida.

Haitian Judge Bernard Saint-Vil released Coulter on Friday. She walked out of judicial police headquarters in Port-au-Prince and headed to the nearby airport for a flight to Miami.

Coulter is staying in a hotel by herself, her father said. He did not know when she might return home to Boise, Idaho.

He said his daughter had been through a "trying experience" and was welcoming the solitude.

Coulter, Silsby and eight other Americans had been detained in Haiti on suspicion of kidnapping 33 children after the killer earthquake January 12.

Last month, Saint-Vil released the eight others, but Silsby and Coulter remained in custody because the judge wanted to learn more about their motives. On Friday, Silsby was brought into Saint-Vil's office for further questioning.

The missionaries were stopped by Haitian authorities on January 29 as they tried to cross the border with 33 children without proper legal documentation. The group said it was going to house the children in a converted hotel in the Dominican Republic and later move them to an orphanage.

Saint-Vil recently traveled to the Dominican Republic to see where Silsby said she intended to open an orphanage.

Video: Missionary held in Haiti freed

Silsby originally claimed the children were orphaned or abandoned, but CNN determined that more than 20 of them had at least one living parent. Some parents said they placed their children in Silsby's care because that was the only way they knew to ensure a better quality of life for them.

The 10 Americans, many of whom belong to a Baptist church in Idaho, have said they were trying to help the children get to a safe place after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake flattened cities and towns in Haiti.

Silsby said she was "very happy that Charisa went home today." She expected her freedom would soon follow.

"I came here to help these children," she said.

CNN's Lonzo Cook and Sara Sidner contributed to this report.