The missing Tennessee teenager, 18, was found safe almost two years after being kidnapped by her father
A Tennessee teenager who was kidnapped by her father was found safe in Alabama nearly two years after her kidnapping.
An Amber Alert for Daphne Westbrook, 18, was canceled Friday morning after the teen was found in Samson, Alabama.
She disappeared from Chattanooga on October 6, 2019, along with her dogs, Fern and Strawberry, for not returning home from a weekend visit with her father, John Westbrook, 42.
Officials said she had since been drugged or somehow kept restrained VOC 13.
In a statement released to WRCB TV, Hamilton County district attorney John Westbrook said at large.
Tennessee IT expert John Westbrook, 42 (right), is accused of kidnapping his now 18-year-old daughter, Daphne (left), and holding her captive for more than a year before she was found safe this week
“We are grateful that Daphne is safe and is no longer being held by her father,” said District Attorney Neal Pinkston.
He said the investigation is ongoing. “It’s especially gratifying to be able to tell her mother that Daphne is free and no longer hidden,” Pinkston said.
“This doesn’t change our goal of finding and prosecuting John Westbrook. Our research remains active and we expect new developments in the coming weeks. ‘
Daphne turned 18 last weekend, which disqualified her from being the subject of an Amber Alert. But the Holly Bobo Act – named after a 20-year-old who was kidnapped and murdered a decade ago – allowed the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to issue an Endangered Child Alert on Sunday.
‘We are very grateful for it [Holly Bobo Act]Daphne’s mom told WRCB-TV last week. “We’ve been looking for my daughter for a long time and won’t give up until we know she’s safe. It’s reassuring to know that the search won’t end just because it was her birthday. ‘
Authorities believe Westbrook buried Daphne with drugs and alcohol to keep her under his control
The Hamilton County district attorney’s office told DailyMail.com that Daphne was arrested in Samson, Alabama on Friday at around 1:30 a.m. for a traffic violation.
She seemed “emaciated and uncooperative,” the prosecutor said, saying she would visit her aunt in Sebring, Florida, because her father allowed her to visit her.
The Endangered Child Alert flagged police when they got their license, the prosecutor’s office added.
Her father was charged in February with aggravated kidnapping and deprivation of liberty. Around the time of his indictment, Daphne managed to send a message to a friend expressing a wish to hurt himself.
In March, investigators raided John’s sister’s home in Sebring after finding communication between the two. They confiscated her electronic devices during the robbery, VOC 13 reports.
Please know that no one is angry. You’re so loved, ”Rhona Curtsinger, Daphne’s mother, said to her daughter. “It’s not your fault that you find yourself in that situation. This is not her fault. I need her to be okay. I need that. I’ll do everything I can to make sure she is. ‘
Westbrook had escaped police for over a year relying on his advanced information technology skills, aliases, and disguises.
An Amber Alert for Daphne Westbrook, 18, was canceled Friday morning after the teen was found in Samson, Alabama
Daphne Westbrook disappeared from Chattanooga on October 6, 2019, along with her dogs, Fern and Strawberry, after not returning home from a weekend visit with her father.
Pinkston told WDEF in March, Westbrook bought hair dye and dentures to change the look of him and Daphne. Authorities believe he used drugs and alcohol to control his daughter.
Daphne was last seen in the Denver, Colorado area in November 2020.
In February, Daphne’s Bible, which she received from her grandparents for her 16th birthday, was found in a trash can outside a Trader Joe’s on West Cordova Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Also in February, Westbrook spent several weeks in the Pueblo, Colorado area.
Westbrook, an IT specialist, was known to shop in stores in Santa Fe, New Mexico (pictured)
Westbrook is an IT expert specializing in security, blockchain technology and Bitcoin, The News Tribune reports.
“He communicates in a way that is almost impossible to trace, which makes it extremely difficult for investigators to generate significant leads in this case,” said the prosecutor. “We know he makes money by contracting with small businesses to do computer security work.”
Pinkston said Westbrook used as many as 20 different email addresses and 10 aliases.
Daphne’s mother told WRCB TV in March that she last saw her daughter on October 4, 2019, before leaving to spend the weekend with her father at his home on Florida Avenue in Chattanooga.
Two days later, Curtsinger said she had received a message from Daphne asking her permission to return home a few hours late. She never returned.
Prior to her disappearance, Daphne was happy and did well in school, Curtsinger said. She described the teen as fun and curious.
“All we knew was she was sad because her father moved to another state,” Curtsinger said.
Daphne’s mother said she was devastated to have her daughter taken away from everything and everyone she’s ever known, but always hoped the teenager would be found.