Teen missing since 2019 found safe in south Alabama

Published 9:34 pm Friday, May 28, 2021

A Tennessee teen missing since her father allegedly abducted her in 2019 has been found in Alabama, but the man remains a fugitive, authorities said Friday.

Daphne Westbrook, 18, was found safe in the town of Samson, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of the state capital of Montgomery, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement posted on social media.

A search continued for father John Westbrook, 42, who didn’t have legal custody rights and allegedly abducted her in October 2019 from Chattanooga, authorities said. He is wanted on multiple charges including aggravated kidnapping, news outlets reported.

Tennessee investigators didn’t release details about the teen’s condition or how she was located, but earlier this week prosecutors in Hamilton County issued an alert that referred to her as endangered and said she was being held against her will, unable to communicate with others.

Samson Police Chief Jimmy Hill said an officer on patrol stopped a vehicle driven by the young woman about 1 a.m. Friday because it had a missing tail light and expired tag. She was alone with a dog, and authorities realized who she was after running her information in a database of missing persons.

Westbrook “seemed fine” and told officers she was OK, he told al.com.

“She said she was going to the beach to enjoy herself,’′ Hill said. “She said she had just turned 18 and was free.”

Prosecutors in Tennessee said they were glad she was safe and no longer being held by her father. “It is especially gratifying to be able to tell her mom that Daphne is free and no longer being hidden,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Authorities earlier said there had been sightings of the two in several states, and the man was believed to have taken her to the western United States.