Utah college student Madelyn Allen was found locked up in the basement of a man’s home covered in coal this weekend more than five days after she was first reported missing, according to police.
Allen, a 19-year-old student at Snow College in central Utah, was reported missing by her roommates after she was last seen leaving her dorm on the evening of December 13, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Allen had allegedly arranged to be picked up that night by a 39-year-old man identified as Brent Neil Brown of Wayne County, Utah, local news station KTVX reported. According to a police affidavit, the two had previously met in an online chat group. Security footage showed Allen leaving campus around 9:22 p.m. wearing a white fleece jacket and dark skirt and carrying a plastic bag.
The next morning, a text message was sent from Allen’s phone to one her parents saying “I Love You!,” which concerned her parents, and they contacted her phone service provider to find her location. Cell phone data showed Allen’s phone was in Loa, Utah, which is 87 miles from her school’s campus, according to KTVX.
Over the next several days, local, state, and federal law enforcement conducted a search for Allen in Loa. Eventually, officers arrived at Brown’s home where they found Allen’s student ID, and a suitcase of clothes that appeared to belong to her, the news outlet reported.
After detaining Brown and searching through the home, police found Allen naked in a basement coal room, completely covered in coal, according to the Tribune. Brown is described in the police affidavit as being 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, with light-colored hair.
Court documents allege that the relationship between Brown and Allen quickly became non-consensual and violent after he picked her up on December 13. The affidavit states that Brown tied Allen up while he was at work, confiscated both her wallet and cell phone, and threatened to harm her and her family “if she left or told anyone about him,” the Tribune reported.
Brown has since been arrested and is being held on suspicion of obstruction of justice, aggravated kidnapping and rape. Police transferred Allen to a local hospital before announcing her safe return to friends and family on Saturday.
“The ordeal that she has been through is dangerous and traumatic, the details of which we have only begun to understand. She is a fighter. She is now a survivor,” Allen’s uncle, Jacob Allen, said in a statement Sunday. “We are grateful she is with us again so she can now recover.”
Snow College President Bradley Cook on Saturday expressed gratitude for Allen’s safety and cautioned students to be careful about who they engage with online.
“It reminds us of some dangers, especially our young people who are online,” he said. “You need to be careful. … We just have to be ever vigilant about those kinds of interactions,” Cook said.