Editor’s note • After charges were filed in this case, this story was updated to remove the student’s name. The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not identify alleged sexual assault victims.
A father is pleading for help in finding his teenage daughter who hasn’t been seen since she walked away from her Snow College dorm late Monday night.
“If you can hear us,” said her dad, while tearing up in front of TV cameras during a news conference Thursday, “we’re anxious for you to come home and be with us for Christmas.”
The 19-year-old student at the school, in central Utah’s Ephraim, was reported missing by roommates earlier this week when she didn’t return to her dorm.
Security footage shows her leaving the residence halls at 9:22 p.m., wearing a white fleece jacket, a dark skirt and carrying a plastic bag. Her strawberry-blond hair is in a braid.
Her father said his daughter has depression and anxiety — which she talked about openly — and he’s worried she’s experiencing a crisis.
Marci Larsen, the school’s spokesperson, said finals at Snow College run through the end of this week before most students go home at the end of the semester. Larsen said the student has not completed her exams yet, and police don’t believe that she was trying to go home, given that she wasn’t carrying a duffel bag or other luggage.
Her parents told police they have not seen their daughter. They have been in Ephraim searching for her, along with other family members.
Her uncle also spoke at the news conference, choking back tears.
“This is an impossibly difficult and emotional experience,” he said. “We are deeply concerned about [her] well-being.”
The family shared some of their favorite attributes about the student. The father recalled how she was born premature, at just 1 pound and 8 ounces at 26 weeks, and grew strong.
“From the 110 days she was in the NICU to today, she has been a fighter,” he said.
She also loves singing and dancing ballet, and is interested in fashion.
Snow College police are working with state and local law enforcement, as well as the FBI. Anyone with information about the student’s whereabouts or who might have seen anything suspicious in the area may call the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office at 435-835-2345.
The father acknowledged that many families across the country are currently searching for missing children, and that it’s an indescribable grief.
“We are devastated, of course, as you can imagine, and we’re desperate to find her safe,” he said. “We need to find her.”
The police chief at Snow College, Derek Walk, said his officers are currently trying to track the student’s phone records in an attempt to find her. They believe she took her phone with her.
He said at this time, though, his investigators have no idea of where she might have been headed when she left the dorms at 155 E. College Avenue.
The school said Friday that police no longer believe she is in Ephraim. But noted: “She did not have access to a car nor does she have a driver’s license and would not be able to travel on her own. "
The student is currently in her first semester at Snow College, Larsen believes.
Snow College President Brad Cook added Thursday that it has been more than 60 hours since the student disappeared. “Every hour that goes by makes it that much more challenging,” he said.
He also noted that many students on the small, rural campus are concerned and grieving.