EPHRAIM—MANTI—After a nerve-wracking week of uncertainty, the family of Madelyn Allen was overjoyed to announce Saturday night on the Search-for-Maddie Facebook page that their daughter had been found alive.
But later in a press conference, they said she had been through a harrowing experience. The nature of that experience, which included being held against her will, intimidation and assault, came out Sunday evening after law enforcement officers filed a probable-cause statement to justify charges against a Wayne County man.
“Madelyn Allen has been found,” the family update stated Saturday. “She is safe and in the care of the authorities. We cannot express enough gratitude to the incredible law enforcement effort. And we are eternally grateful for each of you, your prayers, your love and your support. Thank you!”
Allen, 19, was found Saturday evening in a coal storage area in a house in Loa, Wayne County, about 90 miles from Ephraim. She was covered in coal in an apparent attempt to hide her. The occupant of the house, Brent Brown, 39, was arrested, on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping, assault and obstruction of justice.
As of Monday, Brown was being held without bail in the Sevier County Jail, according to Sanpete County Attorney Kevin Daniels, who drew up some of the search warrants in the case. Formal charges had not been filed. And no decision had been reached as to whether the Wayne, Sevier or Sanpete County attorney would prosecute the case.
“We don’t have a lot of information about him,” Snow College Police Chief Derek Walk said at a Sunday afternoon news conference. “We met him for the first time last night. We don’t know how extensive his relationship (was) or her knowledge of him is thus far.”
Now a survivor
At the news conference, Jacob Allen, the young woman’s uncle, said Madelyn had “always been a fighter. She is now a survivor.”
Madelyn’s father, Jonathan Allen, described receiving a phone call Saturday night from Walk letting the family know their daughter and sister had been found. “We dropped to our knees,” he said. “We were so grateful, elated. We couldn’t describe the feelings that we had as we embraced each other.”
“We are so excited to have our Madelyn home,” her mother, Taunya Allen, said. “We love her so much, and she has been such a light and joy in our lives. We are so grateful that we can continue our lives together with her.”
According to the probable-cause statement, Allen met the man online and arranged to have him pick her up Monday, Dec. 13, in Ephraim. Snow College security footage shows Allen leaving Snow Hall, a dormitory, about 9:20 p.m. wearing a white jacket and a dark skirt and carrying a bag.
Very quickly, according to court documents, the relationship between Allen and the man ceased to be friendly. Brown is alleged to have taken Allen’s phone, only allowing her text her family once on the morning of Dec. 14.
While he was at work during the day, she was tied up. When Brown discovered police were searching for her, he disposed of her phone, took her wallet and threatened her, saying, according to the probable-cause statement, that “if she left or told anyone about him, he would come after her family and sister,” who live in Kaysville, Davis County.
However, according to authorities, the activity that did occur on the phone enabled them to pinpoint Allen’s location as the town of Loa. Authorities haven’t revealed how they narrowed their search to Brown’s house. But Chief Walk said the final search involved knocking on doors.
Snow President Brad Cook told the press conference Sunday the overall law enforcement effort from the time Allen was reported missing until she was found involved more than 100 officers from at least eight municipal, county and state agencies, along with the FBI.
Cook thanked law enforcement on his Facebook page. “It has been impressive to see how effectively these various law enforcement entities have worked together for this very happy outcome,” he wrote.
“A special thanks to Chief Derek Walk of the Snow College PD (Police Department) who tirelessly and expertly coordinated this effort. There are so many heroes in this story, and the blue (one of the Snow College colors) really shined tonight! Thank you.”
The first press conference related to the case was held Friday. At that event, the Allen family and Walk said they wanted to widen the net in their search for Allen, and if that meant sharing information about Allen’s personal life, they would do so.
At the press conference, Johnathan Allen said the family feared her disappearance could be connected to a mental health crisis. “Dear Maddie, if you can hear us, you’re not alone,” her father said. “Many people are facing similar challenges. We know that you’re brave and that you’re strong. We see you. And we love you beyond our ability to express and we are here for you. And we’re anxious for you to come home and be with us for Christmas.”