Greg Allen gripped his phone tightly. “Are you sure?” he asked, praying it wasn’t another dead end or lead that would end in tears again.
They had already been through so much. The voice on the other end told him to buy a ticket to Mexico but be prepared for bad news.
Greg, a scientist at Austin’s university, had met Dara Llorens through a dating service.
They immediately hit things off and a whirlwind romance brought their daughter, Sabrina, into the world. Things seemed perfect … that is until three years later. Things quickly turned sour. A messy divorce ended with Greg having full custody.
However, Dara wasn’t going to let things end there. Child services were called in with reports of abuse from Greg.
But through careful questioning of the daughter, they realized the mom had told the girl to lie. It seemed that the mother was going to play dirty and stop at nothing. The threats continued.
Over time, however, things seemed to lighten up, and Dara was amiable and accommodating.
They had many visits and Sabrina eventually had sleepovers with her mom. Greg finally felt at ease, so there was nothing to worry about on that one April day when he dropped her off. But when he went to pick her up, no one was there.
He doubled over and felt like he was going to be sick. “Daddy, don’t ever forget me,” were the last words his daughter had said to him.
They didn’t seem to mean anything then, but now he understood … and it was all his fault. He called the police, which ended up no help.
Next was to hire a private investigator, who found a lead in a town on the Mexican border.
There was no question as to the next move – Greg took a leave from work, went to Mexico City, took a crash course in Spanish, and started a website. One year of flyers and phone calls passed.
One day, he got a call from a school administrator.
She had a girl in her school who barely spoke Spanish and seemed to be in an abusive relationship with her mother. She fit Sabrina’s description. Greg called the police … but they were too slow in their response. The two had disappeared again.
He felt another part of his heart rip away, but he stayed strong in his promise.
Life went on, he kept studying, married his tutor, and had three more children – but he continued to search, never giving up on his beloved princess. It wasn’t until 12 years later, did he get another phone call.
The private investigator had been working the case the entire time.
Now, all signs pointed towards Papalotla, a town not far from Mexico City. Greg rushed to join them as they closed in on the apartment. The authorities broke down the door and rushed in. Dana was quickly arrested. And Sabrina?
She was there too. But it wasn’t the reunion the father had imagined.
Not only had Dara changed her appearance with plastic surgery, but she had also changed her daughter’s look too, including hair color. The biggest shock? The mother had lied, saying the family was dead and her father was a monster. Sabrina did NOT want this reunion.
On top of the lies, there had been years of trauma.
The seventeen-year-old was returned to the States, but there was so much healing to be done … not to mention a coming trial and would rip open old wounds. Details started to come to light and they were beyond heartbreaking.
First, the girls were always on the run and she was almost never allowed to leave the house. She also wasn’t allowed to go to school.
She wasn’t ready to be with a family and stayed within FBI care services and was given a therapist. She had been under “an intense campaign to hate me,” Greg said.
In December 2015, one chapter finally came to a close as Dara pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and was given a six-year prison sentence.
On top of that was another two years for custody interference. Dara remained steadfast that everything she did was right, and for her daughter. As for the family’s recovery?
Reunification therapy can take months or years – depending on the trauma, and Sabrina has had plenty. At the time, she didn’t even remember her own name (instead, going by “Fair”).
Greg thinks back on the years of pain and is certain of two things. First, how lucky he is.
Not all missing children are found. He might have lost years, but there are so many more years to come.
Second, this new path is not about him. It’s about his daughter. He will go as slow as she and the therapists want. All he wants is to have her in his life, in any way.