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A 19-year-old Utah college student who was allegedly kidnapped and raped was found with the help of an “I love you” text message she sent to one of her parents before she was officially reported missing.
Madelyn Allen, a student at Snow College in Ephraim, was reunited with her family after being rescued Saturday, some five days after she disappeared from her dorm, school police Chief Derek Walk said.
Brent Neil Brown, 39, who allegedly held Allen captive at his Loa home after meeting her online, allowed the student to text her family once on Dec. 14, before she was reported missing, ABC 4 reported.
About 7:20 a.m. that day, a text message reading “I love you” was sent from her phone to one of Allen’s parents, Jonathan and Taunya Allen – leading them to ask the cell phone carrier about the location of the device, the outlet said.
The suspect then took her phone and wallet, tied her up while he was at work and threatened to go after her family if she left or told anyone about him, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by KSL TV.
The cell phone carrier told the family that the text had been sent from Allen’s community of Loa, almost 90 miles from Snow College, ABC 4 reported.
Brown answered the door to his home and said he was alone, but cops later found Allen in a basement room, where she was naked and covered in coal, according to court documents.
“As they approached the house they observed through a basement window a person with light-colored hair and a small build in the basement of the house,” the affidavit states, referring to police. “As they knocked, this person ran out of sight.”
Brown said he tied Allen up as a form of role-play while he went to work, leaving her able to reach food and the bathroom, according to KSL, which cited the affidavit.
He told investigators that he met Allen on a bondage chat group.
On Dec. 14, a day after she was kidnapped, Allen “realized the situation she was in and began worrying she would not be able to leave.”
She told authorities that “Brown raped her several times daily,” and “she did not want to have sex with Brown” – but was afraid of leaving because he knew her home address and Brown had “threatened her, saying if she left or told anyone about him he would come after her family and sister,” according to the affidavit.
When she saw a news report about her going missing, Brown told her he had mailed her phone to the Arizona-Mexico border “so nobody could locate her,” the document states.
On Sunday, Allen’s parents said they were overjoyed to be reunited with their daughter after she was checked out at a hospital. Her injuries were unclear.
“We dropped to our knees,” Jonathan said of when he got the call from cops Saturday. “We were so grateful, elated. [We] couldn’t describe the feelings that we had as we embraced each other.”
In a statement, the family said: “Words cannot express our gratitude for the outpouring of love we have received. We are eternally grateful for Maddie’s miraculous return, for everyone who played a role in bringing her home, and for those who are now helping her begin the recovery process.
“We also appreciate those in the media and elsewhere who have discussed this difficult experience with sensitivity. While we hope that our experience might foster greater awareness and understanding of mental health issues, our sole focus in the coming days, weeks and months is on Maddie’s needs and those of our other children,” they said, ABC 4 reported.
“As a result, we will be very limited in our public communication, but want you to know of our immense love and appreciation for all those who have shown such care, sensitivity, and understanding,” the parents added.
Snow College President Bradley Cook cautioned students to be wary during online interactions.
“It reminds us of some dangers, especially our young people who are online,” he said, according to the station. “You need to be careful. … We just have to be ever vigilant about those kinds of interactions,” he said.
Cook described the family as “poised, graceful, compassionate” at a “time of excruciating pain,” KSL TV reported.
He added that “it’s been an honor, really, to work with them and their courage and their strength. We’re very proud that they’ll forever be part of the Badger family. We wish them success, and most of all, the success of Maddie as she journeys on in what we hope will be a very full, happy and productive life.”
Brown faces felony counts of aggravated kidnapping, rape, object rape and obstruction of justice.