A teenage girl missing for 18 months has managed to send a secret message to a friend crying out for help.
Daphne Westbrook, now 17, never returned from a weekend trip with her dad John Westbrook, 43, in October 2019.
Authorities have been searching for the pair, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, ever since, believing the girl has been drugged.
And investigators are now on high alert after Daphne contacted a friend to say she was considering self-harm in recent days.
It remains unclear how the teen sent the message or exactly what she said, but her mother has urged her to come home.
“It is not your fault you are in that situation. This is not her fault. I need her to be OK. I need that.
“I will do everything that I can to make sure that she is.”
Police believe that Westbrook may have taken his daughter to the western US, where he has contacts in several states.
He was charged with Daphne’s kidnapping in a Grand Jury indictment last month, but remains at large.
Ms Curtsinger added that she did not realise her ex-husband had the potential to be a dangerous person.
She said: “Looking back, hindsight, it is much clearer when you are in the moment.
“There were a lot of warning signs. I just didn’t see them.”
The mum believes that Westbrook snatched the child after a custody agreement meant he could only see her every other weekend.
Tennessee Attorney General Neal Pinkston said it is now feared that Daphne could be suicidal.
He added: “She has this odd affection to him now because prior to her leaving he would give her alcohol, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms.
“And he’s now, we know from recent witness interviews, that she’s constantly drugged and/or drinking alcohol provided by him.”
The FBI is now involved in the case, with alerts issued for anyone who sees either Daphne or Westbrook.
She is described as 5ft3in, with brown hair and brown eyes.
Westbrook, known to be adept at disguising himself, is 6ft4in with brown hair and blue eyes.
The dad is believed to have recently communicated with his sister, who lives in Sebring, Florida, according to reports.
The woman, who has not been named, had her house raided over the weekend, with investigators seizing multiple electronic devices.
She is set to be interviewed by the authorities in the coming days, raising hopes Daphne could finally be returned.