SAMSON, Ala. — A now 18-year-old who investigators said was being held against her will by her father and who may have spent some time in Colorado has been found safe after a search that began in 2019.
Daphne Westbrook was found in Samson, Alabama, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Friday. She was 17 when she was first reported kidnapped and was the subject of an Endangered Child Alert that spanned multiple states.
Samson is located west of Dothan, Alabama, and is just north of the Florida state line.
Her father, John Oliver Westbrook, is not in custody, according to the Hamilton County (Tennessee) District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said they did expect developments in the coming weeks.
John Westbrook had been indicted for aggravated kidnapping related to his daughter’s disappearance. The Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office previously said Daphne Westbrook and her two dogs, Fern and Strawberry, disappeared from Chattanooga, Tennessee after failing to return home from a weekend visit with her dad.
At the time, prosecutors said they believed the teenager was being held against her will and was unable to communicate with the outside world. Investigators said she was endangered both physically and mentally, but wouldn’t say why.
In November 2020, Daphne was seen in the Denver area, and the next month, John Westbrook spent several weeks in the Pueblo, Colorado area, according to authorities.
John Westbrook is an IT expert specializing in security, block chain technology and bitcoin, and he is communicating in a way that’s almost "impossible to trace", prosecutors said.
They believe he is earning money contracting with small businesses to do computer security work.
"We are thankful Daphne is safe and no longer being held by her father,” a statement posted to Facebook by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office reads. “It is especially gratifying to be able to tell her mom that Daphne is free and no longer being hidden. This doesn’t change our goal to find and prosecute John Westbrook. Our investigation remains active and we expect new developments within the next couple of weeks."
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