A Tennessee man is suspected of holding his 17-year-old daughter against her will since 2019 in western states, including Colorado, and concern is increasing for her physical safety.
John Oliver Westbrook allegedly kidnapped his daughter, Daphne Westbrook, in October 2019. Daphne, as well as her two dogs Fern and Strawberry, disappeared from Chattanooga after a weekend visit with her father, according to the district attorney's office in Hamilton County, Tennessee.
She was seen in Denver in November 2020 and John spent several weeks in Pueblo in February, the district attorney's office said.
Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston said in an interview that investigators know that John has made relatively recent purchases in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as well, and had been previously known to in Albuquerque when one of the microchipped dogs was turned in and picked up by John Westbrook.
The district attorney's office said Daphne is being held against her will and cannot communicate with the outside world. Based on the investigation, she is increasingly at serious risk of physical and emotional danger.
Pinkston said Daphne has occasionally communicated with a friend back in Tennessee over the past year-plus and said that her computer was behind locked doors and phone was wrapped in aluminum foil so it could not be tracked. He said Daphne told her friend that she had virtually no interaction with anyone besides her father and that she was “very depressed” and expressing suicidal ideations.
John may occasionally take his daughter to ride horses, so the district attorney's office is asking for the equestrian community to keep an eye out for them.
John is an IT expert and specializes in security, blockchain technology, and bitcoin, and is earning money by contracting with small businesses to do computer security work. The district attorney's office said he's communicating in a way that's almost impossible to trace.
“We have anywhere from 15 to 20 or more Google Voice numbers, or voice-over-IP numbers, which the beauty of those is you can’t ping them for any location data,” Pinkston said. “And he uses Proton mail accounts, which are out of Switzerland, and it puts any IP address history we’ve got – he’s always logging in through a VPN through either Switzerland or Sweden. So, it’s virtually impossible to track him.
Pinkston said that two or three years ago, John took Daphne away for a summer vacation for 2-3 months and never told the girl's mother where they were. But he said no charges were brought out of that incident.
He has been indicted on a charge of aggravated kidnapping.
Pinkston said that Daphne's mother was struggling after not speaking with her daughter for so long. He said that John owns a 1970s orange Volkswagen Beetle but was last spotted driving an older-model pickup truck in Albuquerque, though the plate numbers could not be identified, he said.
"We've been behind him for quite a while, but we've finally caught up to where we think he is," Pinkston said.
If you see John, Daphne or her two dogs, call the district attorney's office at 1-423-209-7415. Send all tips to that phone number or email FindingDaphne@hcdatn.org. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is aiding in the search.
Denver7's Jon Ewing contributed to this report.