Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Case of the Seven-Year Sex Slave

A Family's Search

After Colleen had been missing for four days, her friends in Eugene contacted her family, who had not seen or heard from her.  They all grew concerned.  Colleen's parents discovered her plan to go to Westwood and upon calling her friend there, realized that she'd never made it.  She generally kept in touch with them, so on May 23, they filed a missing persons report with the police department in Eugene, Oregon.  She was five-foot-six, they told the officers, and weighed around 135 pounds.  She wore her brown hair long and straight, and she had blue eyes.  Her parents, divorced and remarried, both lived in Riverside, California.   Colleen herself had been married just before she turned 17.  A high school dropout, she'd wed Tom Smith, 22, but their life together in Ohio had lasted only a year.  She came home to get her high school degree and then moved in with friends in Eugene who became her adopted family.  Though she had two sisters at home, she felt closer to her friends.

Tom Smith was an obvious suspect.  Not much was known about him, except that he was from Ohio.  But he'd never bothered to come after Colleen before so there was little reason to think he'd just grab her.

Eventually hope receded.  Colleen's family just knew something terrible had happened to her.  "She would not have let us worry," her sister Jenise told A&E.  Though she had found respite with another family, she was always thoughtful enough to let her parents know where she was.  It would be a very long time before anyone who knew and loved her ever saw her again.  Jenise believed that someone had killed her, or perhaps that a religious cult had abducted her.

Colleen's mother made frequent calls to the sheriff's department in Eugene, but they never had any new information for her.  The family grew disheartened.

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