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It has the makings of a Hollywood thriller: A determined dad rescues his teenage daughter from an alleged Seattle sex trafficking ring and then takes brutal and deadly revenge on the boyfriend who he claims sold her into bondage.
That’s what police said John Eisenman did. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 19-year-old Andrew Sorensen, according to the Spokane Police Department and published reports.
“It was something that a lot of men say they would do for their daughter,” Eisenman’s fiancé, Brenda Kross, told NBC affiliate KHQ of Spokane.
But Sorensen’s parents told NBC News that to save himself from a long prison sentence, Eisenman and his family are demonizing a developmentally disabled young man who was born with autism and cerebral palsy and who has no ties to sex traffickers.
“He was a disabled kid,” Sorensen’s father, Randy, said in a brief telephone interview. “He didn’t have the capability to sex traffic anybody.”
Sorensen’s mother, Theresa, said they had been advised by their lawyer and by the police not to speak publicly about the investigation. But she said that her son and the teenage girl had been friends for years and that it was upsetting to find out the gory details of her son’s death via the news.
“We didn’t get to tell our side of the story,” Theresa Sorensen said. “Because there is so much more out there about all of this that needs to come out.”
The Sorensen family released a statement Tuesday that directly addressed the account Eisenman told investigators.
“We spent a year searching for him and hoping he would return,” Sorensen’s kin said in a statement. “Claims by his confessed killer have been very hurtful and only added to our family’s grief. The word ‘alleged’ means of an incident without proof. It has already been reported: Both the FBI and Washington State Patrol said there is no sex trafficking investigation into the victim.”
In an email to NBC News, Chris Loftis, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, confirmed that the agency “is not involved with any investigation involving Mr. Sorensen.”
“His name was on our missing persons listing at some point but that does not equate to an investigation,” Loftis added in a subsequent email. “An investigation of that type would likely be conducted by local authorities, not WSP (Washington State Police). We have had no investigation of him related to sex trafficking.”
The FBI said it does not "comment on the existence or the nonexistence of any investigation." Law enforcement officials in Spokane did not immediately respond to a request from NBC News seeking comment.
While Sorensen does appear to have a police record, it’s not for sex trafficking, records show.
In July 2020, Sorensen pleaded not guilty to charges of fourth-degree assault, marijuana possession and intent to sell marijuana that were logged against him by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
In April 2019, available records show a woman requested a temporary order of protection against Sorensen, but apparently the request was denied after a court hearing.
The daughter Eisenman claims was sex trafficked by Sorensen now lives in California, records show. NBC News is not identifying her.
After Eisenman’s arrest, Brenda Kross and her daughter Ashleye Kross launched an online campaign to raise funds to pay for his defense, and prominent conservatives have given his cause a national platform. Eisenman is being held on $1 million bond in the Spokane County Jail.
“This father did the unthinkable for some of us to save his little girl from an unspeakable life that causes long term scars and years of emotional damage,” the page states. “Many are calling him a hero.”
NBC News reached out to the Kross’ as well but received no response.
Eisenman was arrested on Oct. 29, a week after police found a stolen car with Sorensen’s decomposed body in the trunk.
Under questioning, Eisenman told detectives he learned in October 2020 that his juvenile daughter had been sex trafficked in the Seattle area and “obtained information” that her boyfriend was responsible, police said in a news release.
Eisenman told police was able to rescue his daughter and get her back to Spokane that same month.
Then earlier this month, Eisenman told police, he learned that Sorensen was going to be “at a location in Airway Heights, Wa.,” the police press release said.
He drove there and ambushed Sorensen, police said.
“During that encounter Eisenman abducted the victim, tying him up and placing him in the trunk of a vehicle,” the release states. “Eisenman subsequently assaulted the victim by hitting him in the head with a cinder block and then stabbed him repeatedly, causing his death. After the homicide, Eisenman drove the vehicle to a remote area in North Spokane County and abandoned the car with the body still inside.”
The car sat there until last month when a person, who police said was not aware there was a body in the trunk, drove it to Spokane and left it on East Everett Avenue. The remains were discovered after people, who noticed their dogs were drawn to the car, began rummaging through the abandoned vehicle.
In 2008, Liam Neeson starred in the movie “Taken” as an avenging father with “a very particular set of skills” who rescues his daughter from Albanian sex traffickers. In real life, that scenario is “incredibly unusual,” said Kyra Doubek, executive director of Washington Trafficking Prevention and a nationally known expert on sex trafficking.
In fact, a search of news databases by NBC News found no other stories like Eisenman’s.
The way Eisenman claims his daughter wound up in the clutches of sex traffickers is all too common, and the men who force them into prostitution even have a name — “Romeo Pimps,” experts said.
“The most common form of entry in sex trafficking is with the ‘promises of love,'" Doubek said.
“They target a vulnerable young person and make them believe they are loved,” added Tricia MacFarlan of Mirror-Ministries in Richland, Washington, a group that supports survivors of sex trafficking. “Young women are especially vulnerable to someone who will make them believe this is their first big love.”
Theresa Sorensen said her son had below average intelligence and it would never have occurred to him to try and seduce a girl into prostitution.
“Our son had an IQ of 81,” she said. “If anybody could be taken advantage of, it was him.”
CORRECTION (Nov. 16, 11:50 a.m. ET): A photo caption in a previous version of this article misspelled the name of the shooting victim. He is Andrew Sorensen, not Sorenson.