Officials: Tennessee teen kidnapped by father in 2019 may be held captive in Florida

TAMPA, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials say a teen who was kidnapped by her father in 2019 is potentially being held in Florida.

According to the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee, 17-year-old Daphne Westbrook was kidnapped by her father, John Oliver Westbrook in Oct. 2019.

Officials said she never came back after a weekend visit with her father in Chattanooga. Her dogs, Fern and Strawberry, were also missing.

Courtesy: Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office

“We believe Daphne is being held against her will, unable to communicate with the outside world,” the district attorney’s office said. “Our investigation shows she is endangered both physically and mentally, and is routinely being drugged and/or kept drunk to incapacitate her.”

Officials said John Westbrook is an “IT expert specializing in security, block chain technology, and bitcoin.”

“He is communicating in a way that’s almost impossible to trace, which makes it extremely difficult for investigators to generate significant leads in this case,” officials said in a statement. “We know he is earning money contracting with small businesses to do computer security work.”

Fox 13 reports that officials believe John Westbrook may have sought shelter with a relative near Tampa, possibly his sister Starla Westbrook who lives in Sebring.

Officials said Starla is refusing to cooperate with investigators and recently worked at a Ross store. They also added that she uses the name Sharlena Peters on Facebook and YouTube.

Hamilton County authorities said John may have altered his appearance, along with Daphne’s, and might be using hair dye and fake teeth.

“Daphne has not been allowed to attend school or visit a doctor and is being deprived of medication,” authorities added. “She is in increasingly at serious risk of physical and emotional danger and we need your help to find her.”

Anyone who may have spotted Daphne, John or her dogs is asked to call the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office at 1-423-209-7425. Tips can also be submitted to FindingDaphne@hcdatn.org.

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