A Utah teen who went missing in Las Vegas last month before being found in California told investigators she was drugged before her alleged abduction and has little recall of her time in captivity, according to her stepfather.
Sarah Dunsey’s stepfather Todd Ellis gave an exclusive interview to the Daily Mail, in which he said the 17-year-old was still in fear her alleged kidnappers would track her down.
Ellis told Daily Mail that Sarah had been staying at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas with her boyfriend when he left to use the bathroom (it is unclear if the couple was in a hotel room or elsewhere at that point.) When the boyfriend returned, he found that Sarah had vanished. Ellis said she had been sedated with a date rape drug but is unclear who is believed to have administered it.
Though her family reportedly believed at different points throughout the month Sarah was missing that she might be in Las Vegas or in San Diego, the family reportedly now believes she was taken to Venice, California, right away. A family friend, Dave Cox, told the Daily Mail that Sarah was kept there under the influence of sedatives.
“They kept her drugged for most of the time down there,” Cox said. “He [the kidnapper] kept her on a pretty tight rein and would only take her out at night. I just can’t imagine how it must have been.”
In the interview, Sarah’s stepfather spoke out against rumors that the teenager left voluntarily.
“People have said things like, ‘she was a runaway, she meant to leave [Las Vegas]’. She didn’t. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ellis said, adding that he asked Sarah why she didn’t try to escape.
I said to her, did you never think to try to run away [from her captors]? And she said, ‘No – you don’t understand. Everybody is connected and they watch and you have to be careful what you say, you have to be careful what you do.’
She doesn’t remember a lot [about what happened]. She was pretty open with the police but I don’t know exactly what was said and we don’t know what the charges are.
We now have to let them [the police] do their job.
Ellis told the Daily Mail that Sarah was upset when she learned her family’s address had been made public, and feared that her captors would find here there. She has since moved to an undisclosed location with her mother and siblings, Ellis said.
Sarah was found just days after her family released an emotional video begging for help in finding the teenager. In the video, her mother says that Sarah is a victim of sex trafficking and urges the girl to stay strong while her family searches for her.
“Sarah Bearah, this message is for you,” her mother says in the video. “I want you to fight because I need you. All of us need you. The world needs you. So fight, okay? We’re coming to get you.”
Shortly after the video went viral last week, Sarah was found in Venice and reunited with her family this weekend after a brief hospital stay.
Her family said in a Facebook post after the reunion that they would share more information about the appearance in coming days.
Investigators reportedly brought two men in for questioning in connection to Sarah’s disappearance, but they have not been identified and it is unclear if any of charges are expected to be filed. Ellis told the Daily Mail that one of the men has since been released, and the FBI declined to comment on the investigation.
Photo: Family handout