‘Credible sighting’ of Daphne Westbrook who was 'kidnapped by dad in 2019' & recently 'messaged friend begging for help'

A TEENAGER who disappeared in 2019 after allegedly being kidnapped by her dad may have been spotted in Florida in what police are describing as a "credible sighting".

It comes after Daphne Westbrook, who is now 17 and from Tennessee, is believed to have recently managed to send a message to a friend begging for help.

A person has now reported seeing a man and his teenage daughter – who appeared to match the description of John Westbrook and Daphne – on March 6 in an old, rusty orange VW Beetle in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Melydia Clewell, chief of staff for the Hamilton Country District Attorney's Office, said authorities know Westbrook owns a vehicle matching that description and that he has family in the Florida area, reports Oxygen.com.

She said: "That to us is a very credible sighting."

A tweet put out by Tennessee Bureau of Investigation added that the 1971 Volkswagen Beetle has no license plate or windshield.

It comes after it is understood she also recently communicated with an unidentified friend to say she was alive, and that she was considering self-harm.

The teen, from Chattanooga in Tennessee, vanished in October 2019 along with one of her pet dogs after a weekend visit to her dad John Westbrook, 43.

Tennessee Attorney General Neal Pinkston, who is part of the investigation, said: “Our investigation has revealed that she is presently expressing some suicidal ideations.

"And she has not just presently but she has a past history of that as well.”

It remains unclear what type of message Daphne sent, or how it was communicated.

Daphne’s distraught mom Rhona Curtsinger has issued an appeal to her daughter to try and get in touch again.

“Please know that nobody is angry. You are so loved,” Curtsinger told Fox13.

“It is not your fault you are in that situation. This is not her fault. I need her to be okay. I need that. I will do everything that I can to make sure that she is.”

Curtsinger says she had no idea her ex was dangerous, or had the potential to abduct their daughter.

She believes he decided to snatch Daphne after a custody agreement ruled he could only see her every other weekend.

“Looking back, hindsight, it is much clearer when you are in the moment,” said the heartbroken mom.

“There were a lot of warning signs. I just didn’t see them.”

Investigators fear Westbrook is using drugs to keep his daughter subdued and control her.

They say he has used up to ten different aliases and recently bought hair dye so could be using disguises to evade capture.

Pinkston, who has charged Westbrook with aggravated kidnapping despite his absence, said: “She has this odd affection to him now because prior to her leaving he would give her alcohol, marijuana, LSD, mushrooms.

“And we know from recent witness interviews, that she’s constantly drugged and/or drinking alcohol provided by him.”

On February 23 Westbrook was indicted on charges of aggravated kidnapping in connection to Daphne’s disappearance, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

An amber alert has now been issued in a bid to find the teen.

Investigators believe Westbrook may have traveled west with Daphne having known contacts in Colorado, New Mexico, California and Washington, but are not ruling out the possibility the pair traveled elsewhere.

The ongoing investigation has led authorities to “become increasingly concerned for Daphne’s wellbeing.”

Westbrook is said to be a master of disguise, and has used encrypted phones as well as cryptocurrency to avoid detection.

FBI investigators are also unsure of what kind of car Westbrook is using to transport Daphne around the US.

Westbrook is believed to have recently communicated with his sister, who lives in Sebring, Florida.

That sibling, who has not been named, had her house raided over the weekend, with investigators seizing multiple electronic devices as evidence.

She is set to be interviewed by the FBI in the coming days, raising hopes Daphne could finally soon be reunited with her mother and friends.

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