TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida Amber Alert issued for a Tennessee teenager missing since 2019 has been canceled because the girl has been found safe, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The Florida Amber Alert was issued for Daphne Westbrook, now 18 as of Sunday, in March after she and her father John Oliver Westbrook were last seen in the Florida Panhandle. Authorities say John has been indicted for kidnapping his daughter when she was 17 and holding her against her will.
At this time, officials say John is still wanted and faces 20 to 25 years behind bars.
Daphne disappeared from Chattanooga in October 2019 after a weekend visit with her father, according to the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office.
"Daphne is being held against her will, unable to communicate with the outside world," the district attorney's office said in March. "Our investigation shows she is endangered both physically and mentally and is routinely being drugged and/or kept drunk to incapacitate her."
Daphne was pulled over in Samson, Alabama around 1:30 a.m. on Friday for a traffic violation. According to the district attorney's office, John let Daphne go and was sending her to his sister Starla Westbrook's home in Sebring.
The district attorney's office previously said Starla, who also uses the alias "Sharlena Peters" online, refused to cooperate with investigators. Daphne has hired a lawyer and has refused to say anything, according to the district attorney's office. She does not face charges but did get a traffic citation.
The DA says Daphne's mother wants people to know she is glad her daughter is okay and she's asking for privacy at this time.
The Hamilton County District Attorney's Office released the following statement on Facebook on Friday after Daphne was found.
"We are thankful Daphne is safe and no longer being held by her father. It is especially gratifying to be able to tell her mom that Daphne is free and no longer being hidden. This doesn’t change our goal to find and prosecute John Westbrook. Our investigation remains active and we expect new developments within the next couple of weeks."
The district attorney's office has previously said John, an IT expert, is communicating in a way that's almost impossible to trace. They say he's earning money by contracting with small businesses to do computer security work.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation issued an Endangered Child Alert on behalf of the district attorney's office on Sunday under the Holly Bobo Act. The act, which was passed last year, allows investigators to issue an endangered person alert for any missing endangered person under the age of 21. According to our sister station WTVF in Nashville, the act is named after 20-year-old Holly Bobo who was abducted in 2011. Her remains were found three years later.
The activation criteria for an Amber Alert says the child must be under the age of 18.