BOUNTIFUL — The mothers of two teen girls police say were kidnapped at knife point and held hostage for 19 hours before escaping in Santaquin don't believe it was a spur of the moment crime.
"They were planning this. Whether they were planning this for our specific girls, that part we really don't know yet. There's some suggestions that maybe the girls have been stalked for a series of weeks leading up to this," said the mother of the 16-year-old girl police say was taken hostage.
Last week, two girls, ages 16 and 17, were having a sleepover when they left the house twice to take a walk. The first time was about 11:30 p.m. Sept. 8, and the second was about 2 a.m. Sept. 9.
It was during their second time out that they were approached by two men and a woman in an SUV, they told police. The girls refused their offer for a ride. But the two men immediately got out and forced the girls at knife point into their vehicle, the mother of the 16-year-old said. The girls screamed, something the mothers say has been verified by witnesses.
The girls then had their wrists duct taped in front of them, duct tape placed over their mouths, and were put in the cargo area of the SUV. For nearly an entire day, the girls were driven to several undisclosed locations. They were able to escape 19 hours later when the 16-year-old managed to free herself from her bonds while the SUV was parked and the two men were out of the vehicle, the mothers said.
"That's when she worked the duct tape off of her mouth and her hands, and then she took it off of her friend. She opened the hatchback and grabbed her friend and yelled, 'Run,'" the 16-year-old's mother said.
As of Sunday, no arrests had been made. Now, the mothers of the two teen girls are urging anyone who may have seen anything that night to call police. The girls and their mothers are terrified that the men and woman will return, so they've asked not to be identified by name.
"The girls are too traumatized to speak out for themselves, and they're too scared. So we're speaking out for them," the mother of the 17-year-old said.
The mothers admit they're stuck in a Catch-22 situation. They want to get the word out to encourage potential witnesses to call. But they say they've been asked by police not to give out many specific details, including what clothes the girls were wearing that night or even their hair color. Investigators are afraid of receiving false tips, the mother of the 16-year-old said.
They're hoping that if anyone in Bountiful in the neighborhoods surrounding the LDS Temple or Tolman Park saw anything suspicious on the night of Sept. 8, they will call police.
Likewise, if anyone in Santaquin saw two girls running about 9:30 p.m. Sept. 9 to also call authorities. The mothers say the girls remember running past some horses after escaping, and they actually ran past the Santaquin Police Department without realizing what it was, before running onto Main Street and trying to flag down a car.
At least one of the girls still had duct tape stuck to her at that point, the mothers said.
The girls were threatened, bruised and actually cut, the mothers said. None of their injuries required transportation to the hospital, they said.
One of the men was described as white, in his early to mid-20s, with light brown hair, slender build and a tattoo on his left arm. The only description of the second man given was he was white, taller, in his early to mid-30s and had dark brown hair. The woman was between 25 to 35 years old, had long blond hair and was heavy-set. Their vehicle was a red SUV, unknown make or model.
When asked about a possible motive for the alleged abductions, the mothers said police were looking into several theories, but that was more information they couldn't disclose.
"There were things said (by the suspects), and there are some clues about things that happened inside the vehicle," the mother of the 16-year-old said.
As the girls were being driven around, the men made several stops to go inside residences while leaving the girls in the vehicle.
"We don't really, really know (what they were doing). The two standing theories were either they were trying to negotiate deals or they were looking for a place to stash them. They did get the ultimate feeling with the last house in Santaquin they were planning on sexually assaulting them," one of the mothers said.
The mothers also want to clear up some misconceptions about their daughters' ordeal since word of it broke a week ago. The first is in response to online comments from people who don't believe the girls' story is true. They say their daughters are not making it up.
The second misconception, they said, was that the mothers didn't realize their daughters had been missing for 19 hours.
"We were looking everywhere. And we had contacted police," the mother of the 17-year-old said.
Both moms say their daughters are still too traumatized to be alone.
"My daughter just on Friday had a breakdown. She still hasn't talked very much. She's just been very quiet and doesn't want to go anywhere by herself, has been coming with me almost everywhere, which isn't normal for her. She's afraid to be by herself," the mother of the 17-year-old said.
"There's no way my daughter could handle being in a public setting right now. She's still at the point where she's really not eating, she's not sleeping, she has a panic attack or meltdown if she hears a sudden knock or a sound," the mother of the 16-year-old added.
Anyone who may have witnessed the girls' abduction or escape, or who has information about the alleged kidnapping, is asked to call Bountiful police at 801-298-6000.