Nearly a month after a teenage girl went missing, police say, her mother received an eerie text message.
Police say the woman opened a text message from a person who said they were Lavonda Leeann Marriott-Lockmiller, her 15-year-old girl who “vanished” after she was last seen on Aug. 16 in Battle Creek, Michigan, according to The Battle Creek Enquirer.
One text message, which was sent last week, said “Hi mum it’s Lavonda,” police said, Fox29 reported. It also appeared to suggest that Marriott-Lockmiller’s mom should take down any signs urging for the safe return of the teenage girl.
“I advice [sic] you put down all post and fliers down mum because I am safe and happy where I am now,” the text said, according to Fox29.
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Sgt. Jeff Case, with the Battle Creek Police Department, said that those texts are suspicious because there’s no evidence that Marriott-Lockmiller has ever referred to her mother as “mum.” She instead used the terms “mother” or “mommy,” according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Fox29 reports that the girl’s family suspects those texts came from someone else, police say. Her mom responded to the message by writing “Send me a pic of you now, if this is Lavonda” — but police say she never received a response.
Police say the girl was staying at her foster mother’s house. At first, the girl’s foster mom reported her as a runaway, according to WWMT. But with each passing day, Case told the TV station that it appears more and more like a human trafficking case.
“The longer time that she’s gone the more chance that something potentially bad has happened,” he said, according to WWMT. “The fact that there’s very little contact and nobody has seen her in two or three weeks we are trying to do everything that we can to locate her and make sure that she’s okay.”
But in his interview with WWMT, the police sergeant said Marriott-Lockmiller appeared to “voluntarily” leave her foster mother’s house, as evidenced by security footage at the residence on Aug. 16. He said the video shows her getting into a silver or gray car with “two black males” and driving off.
Police say the video also shows the trio taking cellphones, computers and a TV from her foster mother’s house, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported.