A Wisconsin woman who went missing more than nine years ago has been found living in Mexico with her three children.
Connie McCallister, 26, was found after a church missionary in Mexico reported seeing her to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children three months ago, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.
“We have confirmed, through conversations on Skype, that this is really Connie, and she did ask for help in getting home,” Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher told the newspaper. “But she won’t come back without her children.”
McCallister, who vanished in August 2004 at age 16, said she was drugged and taken to Mexico against her will by her then-boyfriend, her aunt Florence Volzka told the Associated Press.
Judy Weise, a family friend, told the Journal Sentinel that McCallister had started dating the 22-year-old man -- who is now wanted on sexual assault charges against a different alleged victim -- when she was an honor-roll student at Athens High School.
"He told her everything that she needed to hear, and she got involved with him," Weise said. "They went to a party in Milwaukee and she called her sister and said, 'He won't bring me back,' and that's the last anyone heard from her, until Sept. 15."
Authorities long believed that the missing woman had been taken to Mexico, but had no leads until recently.
“I never gave up any hope of her,” Volzka, 56, told the AP. “I always thought she would find a way home. She is very close knit with the family.”
In Mexico, McCallister managed to escape her abductor years ago, but without knowledge of the Spanish language, she was unable to contact her family in the U.S., according to the International Business Times. To survive, she worked as a field hand, which is where she met her husband.
Weise told the Journal Sentinel that McCallister plans to return to Athens, Wis., with her kids and husband if a U.S. court grants permission. McCallister's husband fathered the younger children, ages 3 and 5, while the father of the oldest child, 7, is another man she dated in Mexico.
"We're just so excited because this story will be a happy one," Weise said. "Not many families can have this happy ending."