Dr Phil: Parental Alienation or Runaway Sisters?
Dr Phil met Brian, a father who says his two teenage daughters disappeared during a visit with their mother. Sydney is 15 and Danielle is 14. Two weeks after the girls vanished, their mother Michelle went missing as well. Since Brian legally has full custody of the daughters, he believes his ex is keeping them away from him.
Brittany is Brian’s oldest daughter, at age 19, and she thinks the girls wanted to get away from his controlling and sometimes abusive home environment. Of course Brian doesn’t see it that way. Dr Phil brought Brittany and Brian together even though they don’t get along. Also onstage was Troy, Michelle’s brother, who said he has received videos of the missing girls.
Dr Phil: Help Me Find My Teen Daughters
Brian and Michelle divorced seven years ago, and for the past four years, he has had full custody of Sydney and Danielle. They went on a scheduled visit to Utah in May 2014, planning to stay for the summer. But they went missing in July, and Michelle followed soon after. Brian thinks that Michelle was in on it and knows where the girls are, but her family denies his accusations.
Sydney and Danielle have said via video that they are not missing, but that they will stay on the run until they are allowed to live with their mother again. Brittany doesn’t blame her sisters. “I thought it was normal to be afraid of my dad,” she said.
Dr Phil: Runaway Teens Vs Controlling Father
Dr Phil told Brian that his daughters even sent a video to the show. Sydney and Danielle spoke directly to Dr Phil, claiming that their father was a controlling liar. They hoped that Dr Phil could intervene and get their father the help he needs. “If we ever choose to see our dad again, we want this to be on our terms only,” one of the girls said in the video.
Then Dr Phil asked Brian for his reaction, and he wanted to know how the girls even knew to contact Dr Phil’s show. He also pointed out that the girls are reading from a script that he presumed was prepared by Michelle. “It doesn’t sound like them,” he said. Brittany said that she misses the girls.
Dr Phil: Mom Goes Missing Two Weeks After Daughters
Michelle’s brother Troy was also Dr Phil’s guest. He claimed that he received a thumb drive at his home containing videos from the girls. Dr Phil wondered why Troy did not report his sister missing, but he said that it’s not unusual for him to go months without speaking to her.
Troy did recall Michelle calling him about two weeks after the girls went missing, at which point she was frantic and did not know what to do. As for how the girls knew to send a video to the show, Troy said he assumed it was because he mentioned on social media that he was coming on the show.
After some prodding from Dr Phil, Troy agreed to speculate that Michelle was with the girls, but he maintained that he and his family members had no idea where they might be.
Dr Phil: Staying Safe from Abusive Dad?
The missing girls have also posted other videos on the Internet, and Dr Phil shared some quotations from their YouTube appearances in which the girls complain about their father making people hate their mother and their plan to run away to stay safe. “Our dad is abusive and terrifying at times,” Sydney said, accusing him of brainwashing.
Brian said that this is not an accurate reflection of the situation. But Brittany disagreed, calling him emotionally abusive and remembering that he called her and her sisters liars. She seemed to really be affected by this awkward reunion with her estranged father.
Dr Phil: Violating a Custody Order
Dr Phil said he thinks it is wrong for a parent to violate the law and go against a court order regarding custody. He said that people have to work within the system. Based on the videos he watched, Dr Phil pointed out that the girls do not contend that their father was physical or assaulted them.
Since the girls do not seem to be in immediate danger, Dr Phil said the right thing to do would be to work out their custody concerns through the court system. He said that he is concerned for their wellbeing and social development while they are off the grid.
Dr Phil: Nothing To Hide?
Troy said there was a plan to do this by letting Danielle and Sydney stay with a family member of Brian’s, so that they could come back home and get things sorted out. “People that have nothing to hide hide nothing,” Dr Phil said, suggesting that Michelle was on the run with the teens and should give it up.
Though Dr Phil said nobody is perfect, he noted that Brian has done everything that was asked of him by the courts. “You’re living in a glass house when you’re in this kind of a custody situation,” Dr Phil said, predicting that Brian would soon have more hoops to jump through.
Dr Phil: Help Finding Missing Teens
For all intents and purposes, Danielle and Sydney are still missing. If you know anything about their whereabouts, you can share tips with We Help the Missing at 1-866-660-4025 or wehelpthemissing.org. Stay up to date on the case at the Help Find Missing – Wolferts Sisters page on Facebook.
Domestic Family Abductions are not unheard of in the United States. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said there is not a waiting period under federal law to report a child missing, and the federal Fugitive Felon Act gets federal authorities involved when someone is charged with parental kidnapping under state law.
Though laws vary from state to state, most have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. For more information and resources, call The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit missingkids.com.