Frantic mom goes to lengths to find her missing daughter, who may have run away or been lured by online predator
A 15-year-old Gresham girl is missing and her mother believes she's been lured away by a man she met online.
But Gresham police consider the girl a runaway who is not in danger.
Kyrsten Roth was last seen in her pajamas more than a week ago, the night of Saturday, Dec. 3, according to a press release issued by a Vancouver-based public relations firm in which her mother, Michelle Roth, is quoted.
Michelle said her daughter vanished between 2:55 a.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 4. During the nearly 24 hours before the girl's disappearance, the home's phone bill shows 15 calls to and from a California phone number, including a 100-minute conversation. The calls from the Susanville, Calif., phone number date back to Oct. 28 and continue to Dec. 4.
'I am afraid for her safety and the individual who she may be in the company of,' Kyrsten's mother said in the press release.
Her mother last saw the girl wearing gray pajama bottoms. But she is likely also wearing a black jacket with an Oregon State Beavers patch on the front left side and possibly an orange Beavers scarf.
The girl didn't take any clothes or makeup with her. She also has not used her Facebook account since her disappearance.
Although the press release indicates the girl's friends don't know where she is, Gresham police have talked to one friend who ran into the missing teen Wednesday, Dec. 7, at a cafe across from Gresham High School, said Sgt. Claudio Grandjean, Gresham police spokesman.
The friend told Gresham police that Kyrsten told her she'd run away from home and was staying with Andrew, who is 17 or 19 years old. Kyrsten also gave the girl a number at which she could be reached. That number is the same one that appears so often on her home phone bill, Grandjean said, leading police to suspect it is the number to Andrew's cell phone.
Owners of the cafe also told police they saw the girl get into a car with an unknown male.
Police don't know Andrew's last name, but he was driving a white, two-door Mitsubishi hatchback, possibly with Washington license plates, Grandjean said.
They also believe that the two may be in Olympia, Wash., Sandy or still in the Gresham area.
Kyrsten is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 155 pounds with auburn hair and blue eyes. She has naturally blonde hair, so her roots are blonde but the rest of her hair is auburn.
Anyone who sees her should call 9-1-1, Grandjean said.
Gresham police have filed a missing person report on the girl, as has the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said Michelle Bart, president of Helping Heroes Productions - a media relations firm representing the missing girl's mother. Bart said police in Susanville, Calif., also are investigating.
'But at the point we're at now, she is considered a runaway and she's not in any danger,' Grandjean said.
Bart strongly disagrees.
'She's not running away, she's running to, which is illegal if the man is over 18 and crossing state lines,' Bart said.
Kyrsten's picture has been all over the news for days, and she still hasn't called home - not even to say she's safe, Bart said. 'So if the police don't think she's in trouble, why?' Bart asked.
That also is cause for alarm.
'If she was lured away willingly, she could still be trafficked or be in a cellar somewhere,' Bart said. 'All we're trying to do is find her. With a missing child, every minute is a mile. Precious time is wasted when we don't start looking right away.'
Kyrsten met a man through Xbox LIVE and thought he was a teenage boy. Her younger brother reported seeing her chatting with the guy online. When she questioned him about his age, he responded by showing his driver's license via web cam.
As for the friend's sighting of Kyrsten across from Gresham High School, 'It's hearsay from a so-called friend,' Bart said.
Kyrsten, who reportedly was wearing the pajamas her mother last saw her in, asked the friend for clothes and mascara, which a true runaway would have brought with her before leaving home, Bart said.
'Who runs away in the middle of the night in their pajamas without taking anything with them?'
After talking to the friend, Kyrsten reportedly called a man who picked her up. The man is described as a tall Caucasian male in his 20s with a receding blond hairline.
'Whether she's on her own or not, she's a child,' Bart said. So if her mother is over-reacting by having Bart reach out to the media, but Kyrsten calls home to say she's alive, they'll stop the media blitz.
'We want her to know she's not in trouble,' Bart said. 'Just call home so your mom knows you're safe.'
Although the circumstances surrounding the girl's disappearance are unclear, it could have elements of various scenarios, said Nancy McBride, national security director for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
She could be a willing runaway. She could be a runaway who also has been lured by an online predator who she thinks she's in love with.
Or she may have found herself in a situation she hadn't anticipated, like the 17-year-old boy she thought she was meeting is really a creepy 40-year-old man.
Regardless, 'there's nothing good that can come of this because we don't have a level playing field here,' McBride said.
'The key issue here is she's not where she's supposed to be, and she needs to get home,' McBride said.
Signs of an online predator
• Your child becomes withdrawn and isolated from family and friends.
• You find inappropriate material on the computer.
• Your child receives mail, money or gifts from unknown people.
• You see unknown phone numbers when reviewing the phone bill.
What to do if your child is victimized
• Make it clear that the victimization is not his or her fault.
• Save all evidence of victimization, such as emails or instant message conversations.
• Contact your local law-enforcement agency.
• Make a report to the CyberTipline at cybertipline.com or call 1-800-THE-LOST and include all information available.
Start a discussion with your child
• Who do you usually talk to online?
• Do you trust the people you meet online? Why or why not?
• What could happen if you meet in person with someone you have only known online?
• Have you ever met anyone online who has offered you gifts?
• Who do you talk to when you have a problem? Would you feel comfortable talking to me?
Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children