‘The ordeal that she has been through is dangerous and traumatic, the details of which we have only begun to understand,’ uncle says
A 19-year-old college student from Utah was found alive in the basement coal room of a 39-year-old man’s house five days after she went missing.
Madelyn Allen vanished on Monday when she was seen leaving her dorm at Snow College in Ephraim in central Utah at around 9.22pm.
Police have said that she was found south of the city in Wayne County at the home of a man now being held on suspicion of obstruction of justice, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and object rape, according to court documents. He has not yet been charged with any crime.
Snow College Police Chief Derek Walk told reporters on Sunday: “We don’t have a lot of information about him. We met him for the first time last night. We don’t know how extensive his relationship or her knowledge of him is thus far.”
“This is an ongoing investigation,” he added. “There are certain aspects we are still digging into and trying to understand fully.”
According to a probable cause affidavit filed on Sunday in the 6th District Court in Manti, Ms Allen first met the man in a group chat, and they decided that he would pick her up on 13 December.
Surveillance footage from Snow College shows Ms Allen leaving her dorm on Monday night. Her roommates reported her missing when she didn’t come back the following day. Legal filings state that Ms Allen’s relationship with the 39-year-old man became violent and nonconsensual over the subsequent days.
He reportedly took her phone, only letting her text her family once early on 14 December. Legal filings also state that he tied her up while he was at work, discarded her phone when he found out that law enforcement was searching for her, took her wallet, and “threatened her, saying if she left or told anyone about him, he would come after her family and sister”.
Authorities on the local, state, and federal level all took part in the search. Police used cellphone towers to locate Ms Allen in Loa, a small town south of Ephraim.
Police searched the town, which has around 500 residents, and spotted a person with light hair and a small build in the basement of a home on Main Street.
The 39-year-old man, later identified as Brent Neil Brown, opened the door and told police he was alone in the home. He wouldn’t allow police to search the home without the permission of the owners – his parents. They were contacted and gave their permission for the home to be searched.
Officers found Ms Allen’s Snow College ID, a gun in an open suitcase, along with clothes that appeared to belong to Ms Allen. Mr Brown was arrested when the woman’s ID was found. When he was searched, police found that he was in possession of three knives, ABC4 reported.
Legal filings state police found Ms Allen in the basement coal storage room, naked and covered in coal.
Snow College and Ms Allen’s parents revealed that she had been found on Saturday.
“We got the phone call and [the police chief] said, ‘I have her.’ We dropped to our knees,” her father Jonathan Allen said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “We were so grateful, elated. We couldn’t describe the feelings that we had as we embraced each other.”
“We are so excited to have our Madelyn home,” her mother Taunya Allen added. “We love her so much and she has been such a light and joy in our lives. We are so grateful that we can continue our lives together with her.”
Snow College President Bradley Cook said that the episode “reminds us of some dangers” that young people face online.
“You need to be careful … We just have to be ever vigilant about those kinds of interactions,” he added.
“The ordeal that she has been through is dangerous and traumatic, the details of which we have only begun to understand. She is a fighter. She is now a survivor,” Ms Allen’s uncle Jacob Allen said on Sunday, The Tribune reported. “We are grateful she is with us again so she can now recover.”