A father accused of kidnapping his teenage daughter 17 months ago could be holding her captive in Washington, but his technology skills are making it hard for authorities to find him, officials say.
Authorities say John Oliver Westbrook kidnapped his daughter, Daphne Westbrook, 17, in October 2019 from Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to a news release posted on Facebook by the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee.
Investigators say Westbrook is holding Daphne against her will and they’re struggling to locate them because he is “an IT expert specializing in security, block chain technology and bitcoin.”
“He is communicating in a way that’s almost impossible to trace, which makes it extremely difficult for investigators to generate significant leads in this case,” the release said. “Daphne is increasingly at serious risk of physical and emotional danger.”
Daphne and her dogs, Fern and Strawberry, never returned from a weekend visit with her dad in October 2019. In November 2020, someone spotted Daphne in the Denver area, according to the release.
Investigators recently learned Westbrook was in Santa Fe, New Mexico the first few weeks of 2021 then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado about three weeks ago, according to a news release from the district attorney, posted by the Auburn Examiner.
Westbrook’s sister lives in Auburn, Washington and is in frequent contact with him, according to the release. Officials say she has not been cooperative with the investigation and she has “repeatedly avoided interview requests [from] the U.S. Marshals Service.”
Authorities believe Westbrook will try to seek shelter with his sister in Auburn, about 15 miles northeast of Tacoma.
“We also believe he may have made attempts to alter his appearance and Daphne’s, including using hair dye and false teeth,” Hamilton’s district attorney said.
Investigators say Westbrook, who’s been indicted on aggravated kidnapping charges, is making money by “contracting with small businesses to do computer security work.”
The Hamilton County District Attorney asks anyone with information about Daphne, her father or her dogs to call 423-209-7415 or send tips to FindingDaphne@hcdatn.org.