A Missing Teenager's Texas Getaway

When a teenage girl from small-town Minnesota disappeared with a man 12 years older, everyone knew where they went. So why didn't anyone look?

A Missing Teenager's Texas Getaway

By the time the missing girl emerges from her best friend's bathroom, the sun is up and the coffee's cold.

The pale 16-year-old is skinnier than in the photos, and her long, blonde-dyed-brown hair is now bright purple and tied in pigtails that fall over the shaved sides of her scalp. She's wearing a black tank, tattered Vans and flared jeans. She strides to the door of her friend's tony home in Flower Mound, clenching the day's first Marlboro Red.

I spring from the red ottoman into a half crouch, mirroring the 100-pound greyhound beside me. The girl — everyone calls her "Kenzie" — stops, turns, nods. She's made me.

Before Mackenzie Foss moved from Minnesota to Flower Mound, she and the missing girl were best friends. Their friendship continued in Texas until Foss' dad, Shelby, unearthed the truth.
Jason Ryan
Before Mackenzie Foss moved from Minnesota to Flower Mound, she and the missing girl were best friends. Their friendship continued in Texas until Foss' dad, Shelby, unearthed the truth.
Kenzie was staying with her aunt Lisa (above) when she disappeared for the last time.
Mark Kartarik
Kenzie was staying with her aunt Lisa (above) when she disappeared for the last time.

"How's it going, journalist?"

Her drawl is surprisingly deep, confident.

"How're you doing?" I answer.

It's been just over a month since I got the email from the panicked Minnesota dad: His little girl was missing, he said. Had been since December. She was with a 27-year-old man from the Dallas area, he said, and he could prove it 10 times over. But while his daughter's face had been plastered on missing posters and there was an outstanding warrant for the arrest of the man she was with, no one, the dad said, was looking for her. Could you please help?

It didn't take long to realize the dad was right — no one was looking — and that given the dad's history with his daughter, maybe there was a reason the girl ran. Then, a month later, in the middle of a Wednesday night during the first week of May, I received a text message. It was from the father of the missing girl's best friend, who happened to live in the suburbs of Dallas. He'd picked up Kenzie in the middle of the night — found her at a Home Depot in Irving with two bags of clothes, a cat she found on the side of the road and a puppy she found on Craigslist. Now she was at his house in Flower Mound.

He planned to drive her to the Flower Mound police station first thing the next morning, he said. But first he wanted to tell someone that she was alive. Knowing I'd been looking into the girl's whereabouts, he decided to tell me. Which is why I'm here, not long after sun-up, sipping coffee on his ottoman as the missing girl emerges from his bathroom.

Kenzie moves toward the door. In about five minutes she'll climb into the family SUV and light one more cigarette, her last as a runaway, and surrender herself to the authorities, most likely to be sent back to the family from which she fled. But for now, she's free.

"I'm all right," she says. Smirking, she turns again, opens the front door, and walks out.


Nine hundred and twenty miles directly north of Flower Mound is Marshall, Minnesota, a small town of about 13,500 people. The closest true city, Sioux Falls, is two hours away, in South Dakota. An ocean of corn and soybean laps against Marshall's borders, inside of which are the bare essentials: one elementary, middle and high school, a 24/7 Walmart, a small movie theatre, Varsity Pub, ubiquitous fast-food chains, a bowling alley and the Mustangs of Southwest Minnesota State University.

The town also is home to Schwan's Food Company, a $4.2 billion corporation that employs a large chunk of the population, including for a time Kenzie's father, 37-year-old Jeremy. He made his life in the small town, as did his parents before him and their parents before them. The town mourned when his wife, a local girl herself, took her own life several years back, leaving him alone with his daughter, Kenzie.

Kenzie was outgoing but also an outsider, never belonging to a clique, friends and family say. She played the cello and was friends with the gay boys and anime geeks. She was rebellious, but she hadn't taken to the alcohol or cigarettes that were pandemic among the Marshall youth. She was pretty, with icy blonde hair and blue doe eyes peering from behind glasses, but she deflected boys' advances, which were rare.

"She was like me, I guess," says her best friend, a fellow Mackenzie who, to avoid confusion, went by her last name, Foss. They met in eighth grade and discovered they had the same sense of humor and both listened to obscure metal bands such as Birthday Massacre. They also spent a lot of time online. By the summer before high school, they were holding regular sleepovers, during which they amused themselves by co-hosting live Internet shows on blogTV.

"We did musical shows and kind of sang," Foss recalls. They took requests, often Eminem songs, and they were a relative hit, sometimes attracting 1,000 viewers at once. They even had subscribers.

One of those subscribers was named Kristopher Crawford. The three of them bonded and sometimes video chatted. "He was funny," Foss says. "He was just a strange character. Just the tone of his voice. He added 's' to the end of everything. Even when he was speaking to one Mackenzie, he would say Kenziessss." It was a child's syntax, weird for a 27-year-old man, although Crawford told Kenzie he was younger.

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11 comments
Give it a rest!
Give it a rest!

You are either ignorant of TX law or you've been the not so innocent teen girl as well. If you are a minor in TX you cannot consent to any physical relationship. I'm sorry but a grown man, no matter how immature, is still a man. NOT a boy. The legal age of consent in MN is 16! If he was doing nothing wrong them why manipulate her into crossing multiple state lines which is a federal felony?! Obviously he knew what he was doing. Isolate the girl from any family and you have complete control. Pedophilia much???

wantgant
wantgant

OK wow so who comes up with all that stuff?Total-Privacy dot US

wantgant
wantgant

OK yeah that makes a whole lot of sense dude.www.Total-Privacy dot US

East Texas P1
East Texas P1

Please keep us informed of the updates on this.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

I'm glad she's been found and wish you best of luck.

ConcernedDad
ConcernedDad

Glad she's been found. 16 yr old kids make dumb mistakes and don't understand what love is or how relationships work, its part of being a teenager. 28 year old men should know better however, he is a child predator and I hope he gets more serious charges since it appears he kidnapped and raped this girl over a period of several months. Shame that the authorities did nothing about this for so long when everyone knew she was with him.

Just A Girl.
Just A Girl.

The ignorance behind that comment is kind of ridiculous. Sorry, but it is. In no way does this article say that he raped her, and either way rape is without consent of the other person. If the girl was as in love with this man as the article claims she was and agreed to it, it's not rape, but nowhere does this article say they were intimate. On another note, it doesn't state that he kidnapped her at all. Nobody is looking at this story from both sides, they're just looking at it from the whole "he's a 28 year old man which automatically makes all of this his fault because we find this morally unacceptable, so the 'innocent' little 16 year old girl did nothing to try to get close to him and to be with him". It should be looked at from both angles, not just his. According to the article, she WANTED to be with him, very badly. That doesn't mean he kidnapped her. Again, if it's within her own interests that she wanted to be with him, then it's not kidnapping. It's kidnapping if he just took her from the streets and she wasn't even aware of what was going on. If the girl truly found herself as in love with this guy as the article claims she was, then she would have incredible interests on being with him.

The only reason this was even an issue in the first place is because people think the age gap is "wrong". Generally, what this whole thing comes down to is what is socially or morally unacceptable by the standards of today. You are entitled to think whatever you want, but put into consideration that it wouldn't all be rested upon him. Teenagers do stupid things for love, and you can't control who you fall in love with.

Karen Spiegelman
Karen Spiegelman

Just A Girl, you are misinformed. If someone cannot legally give consent, you cannot legally have sexual relations with them, because that is legally rape. Someone below the age of consent cannot legally have sexual relations. It doesn't matter how badly a child wants to have sex with you -- if you are an adult, meaning above the age of consent, it is up to you to not perform statutory rape. Age of consent laws and classifying people as minors are arguably a bit arbitrary, but are based on the fact that teenage brains are not yet fully formed; that's why a 14-yr-old who steals from a store is treated differently from a 30-yr-old who does the same actions -- the grown-up should have more self-control. But in the end, rape is a crime because it is against the law. Argue against the reason for that law all you want, but if you are having sex with a teenager, you need to expect legal repercussions. Any way you look at this case, it's sad. The poor kid has a dead mother and a violent father, and then some 28-yr-old weirdo grooms her over the Internet and runs away with her. I hope she can make it back from her rough start. And I hope the 28-yr-old can fix himself and his life so that he can make more appropriate romantic decisions, perhaps start dating people above the age of consent.

 
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