Tennessee authorities have issued an AMBER alert seeking the public's help to find a teen girl missing for 17 months after an alleged kidnapping by her dad, and who may be the victim of drugging that keeps her "in an altered state," according to a local prosecutor.
Daphne Westbrook, 17, was last seen in October 2019 in Chattanooga, while on a weekend visit to the home of her non-custodial father, John Westbrook, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The father is also wanted after a Hamilton County grand jury indicted him Feb. 23 on a charge of aggravated kidnapping in connection with his daughter's disappearance, reports TBI.
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The girl's mother, Rhona Curtsinger, said her "fun, inquisitive" daughter, who was then enrolled at Chattanooga State Collegiate High, "was sad because her dad was moving away to another state," reports WRCB TV.
In the last contact between mother and daughter, Curtsinger says Daphne messaged her asking permission to delay her return home by a couple of hours so she could take a walk with a dog and a friend. But Daphne never showed up.
Eight months later, authorities in Hamilton County secured a warrant that charged John Westbrook with custodial interference, and last October, Daphne was added to TBI's online missing children registry.
"In recent weeks, evidence uncovered during the investigation into John Westbrook has led authorities to become increasingly concerned for Daphne's well-being," the agency said in a Twitter post.
"Through witness testimony, she's constantly being given drugs and alcohol that keeps her in an altered state," Hamilton County District Attorney Neil Pinkston alleged to WRCB.
TBI says the father may have traveled with Daphne to the western U.S. and has contacts in Colorado, New Mexico, California, and Washington. "They could, however, be anywhere," according to the agency.
Daphne is described as 5-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.
John Westbrook stands 6-feet, 4-inches tall and weighs 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
TBI said it only decided to issue the AMBER Alert now "because a warrant has been issued for a qualifying crime in Tennessee, and in hopes that – should evidence place her and John in another state – that state will be able to issue an AMBER Alert faster."
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