Man arrested after missing student found alive in his coal bunker five days after disappearance

‘The ordeal that she has been through is dangerous and traumatic, the details of which we have only begun to understand,’ uncle says

Gustaf Kilander
Monday 20 December 2021 16:59 GMT
Missing student found alive in 39-year-old man’s basement
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A 19-year-old college student from Utah was found alive in the basement coal room of a 39-year-old man’s house five days after she went missing.

Madelyn Allen vanished on Monday when she was seen leaving her dorm at Snow College in Ephraim in central Utah at around 9.22pm.

Police have said that she was found south of the city in Wayne County at the home of a man now being held on suspicion of obstruction of justice, aggravated kidnapping, rape, and object rape, according to court documents. He has not yet been charged with any crime.

Snow College Police Chief Derek Walk told reporters on Sunday: “We don’t have a lot of information about him. We met him for the first time last night. We don’t know how extensive his relationship or her knowledge of him is thus far.”

“This is an ongoing investigation,” he added. “There are certain aspects we are still digging into and trying to understand fully.”

According to a probable cause affidavit filed on Sunday in the 6th District Court in Manti, Ms Allen first met the man in a group chat on the messaging app KIK, and they decided that he would pick her up on 13 December.

Surveillance footage from Snow College shows Ms Allen leaving her dorm on Monday night. Her roommates reported her missing when she didn’t come back the following day. Legal filings state that Ms Allen’s relationship with the 39-year-old man became violent and nonconsensual over the subsequent days.

Surveillance footage from Snow College shows Madelyn Allen leave her dorm around 9.22pm on 13 December
Surveillance footage from Snow College shows Madelyn Allen leave her dorm around 9.22pm on 13 December (Snow College)

He reportedly took her phone, only letting her text her family once to say “I love you” early on 14 December. The text alarmed her family, leading to the contacting law enforcement.

Legal filings also state that he tied her up while he was at work, discarded her phone when he found out that law enforcement was searching for her, took her wallet, and “threatened her, saying if she left or told anyone about him, he would come after her family and sister”.

KSL-TV reported that Mr Brown admitted to police that he had tied up Ms Allen to stop her from leaving, as well as taking her phone and threatening her family, but he claimed it was a part of a sexual role-play scenario. But authorities say Ms Allen was being held against her will. The affidavit states that Ms Allen told police that she didn’t want to have sex with Mr Brown, but that she didn’t leave because he had threatened her family and knew where they lived.

She reportedly added that Mr Brown had told her that he had mailed her phone to the southern border and that the police had stopped looking for her.

Authorities on the local, state, and federal level all took part in the search. Police used cellphone towers to locate Ms Allen in Loa, a small town south of Ephraim.

Police searched the town, which has around 500 residents, and spotted a person with light hair and a small build in the basement of a home on Main Street.

Police spotted Ms Allen in the basement of this home in Loa, Utah
Police spotted Ms Allen in the basement of this home in Loa, Utah (Google)

The 39-year-old man, later identified as Brent Neil Brown, opened the door and told police he was alone in the home. He wouldn’t allow police to search the home without the permission of the owners – his parents. They were contacted and gave their permission for the home to be searched.

Officers found Ms Allen’s Snow College ID, a gun in an open suitcase, along with clothes that appeared to belong to Ms Allen. Mr Brown was arrested when the woman’s ID was found. When he was searched, police found that he was in possession of three knives, ABC4 reported.

Legal filings state police found Ms Allen in the basement coal storage room, naked and covered in coal. Mr Brown later claimed it had all been a part of a kidnapping role-play, reported.

Snow College and Ms Allen’s parents revealed that she had been found on Saturday.

“We got the phone call and [the police chief] said, ‘I have her.’ We dropped to our knees,” her father Jonathan Allen said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “We were so grateful, elated. We couldn’t describe the feelings that we had as we embraced each other.”

Ms Allen was reunited with her family after being taken to a hospital for a checkup.

“We are so excited to have our Madelyn home,” her mother Taunya Allen added. “We love her so much and she has been such a light and joy in our lives. We are so grateful that we can continue our lives together with her.”

Snow College President Bradley Cook said that the episode “reminds us of some dangers” that young people face online.

“You need to be careful … We just have to be ever vigilant about those kinds of interactions,” he added.

“The ordeal that she has been through is dangerous and traumatic, the details of which we have only begun to understand. She is a fighter. She is now a survivor,” Ms Allen’s uncle Jacob Allen said on Sunday, The Tribune reported. “We are grateful she is with us again so she can now recover.”

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