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?

All anyone knows is that Kenzie called soon after she disappeared from a blocked number, saying she was all right. Then in early February from a Verizon store in Kansas City, Missouri, she called her aunt Lisa. When Lisa pleaded for her to come home, to finish school, Kenzie told her to fuck off and hung up. Next she called her grandmother, asking for money. Finally she called her dad, demanding that he remove Crawford's national warrant poster from Facebook.

An anonymous tip recently placed the two of them at Grapevine Mills Mall, and he's said to have been in contact with his parents in Grand Prairie. But a search by Grapevine police didn't turn anything up. And damned if Crawford's parents were going to turn in their boy.

"I'm gonna be up front with you," his stepdad promised when I showed up on his doorstep. "It'll be a cold day in hell before I tell anybody where Kris is at." His mom said that "maybe she'll go home when she's 17," the age of consent in Texas.

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.

By early April, no one had heard from Kenzie in over a month. That's when her family blasted Dallas media asking for help. They eventually sent hundreds of pages of documents chronicling Crawford's pursuit of the girl, some which included his cell phone number. I called. He picked up and agreed to meet for coffee. And wouldn't you know it: There he is.

"I'm not hiding," he says. But he's not turning himself in. And he doesn't have the little girl. He tells me it'd been months since he's heard from her.

I explain that everyone thinks Kenzie ran to him. People were suggesting that he was whoring her, that he killed her, that she killed herself. She didn't even have her inhaler.

But in an hour, he says almost nothing about her or their relationship. All Crawford wants to talk about is coffee.

"I used to spend 500 bucks a month," he says. "I'd bring people from work here. Before work, during work, after work. I drink Peppermint Mocha but they didn't used to have that," he tilts his head, lost in another time. "I used to drink Caramel Macchiatos." He looks back up then, and smiles.


"Hello?" the girl on the line says.

The day after I met Crawford at Starbucks, I mentioned the meeting to the father of Kenzie's best friend, Foss. She and her dad had coincidentally moved to Flower Mound in 2011, before Kenzie disappeared, so the dad, a sweet man named Shelby, was trying to help track her down.

After I mentioned the meeting, police who for weeks had expressed no interest in the case called me right up. And the next day I receive a call from a blocked number. A girl's on the line.

"It's Mackenzie," she says.

Kenzie tells me that the night she left, she stayed with people she met on the street in St. Paul. The next morning, she took a bus to Missouri. She met a girl in St. Louis named Jules. Walked right up to her on the street, Kenzie says. Luckily, Jules has two loving parents and a pit bull/German shepherd puppy, and they all took Kenzie in as their own.

She pauses for long stretches before answering some of my questions, like she's getting distracted, or instruction.

"What's the weather like?" I ask her. "In Missouri?"

"I don't go outside," she responds. "I dislike the cold."

A cell phone rings in the background. I ask whose phone it is.

"You can hear the ring?" She dismisses it. "It's another call."

"I'm not hiding," she continues. "When I turn 18 I'm going to go home and get my stuff." But not before then.

She's not in Texas, she says. She's cut off all communication with Crawford. "I've talked to him maybe once. And that was the beginning of December. A while ago."

She admits that she thinks about him sometimes, but she doesn't tell Jules about him. Kenzie doesn't tell Jules anything about where she comes from, and Jules' family never questions why Kenzie can't work, can't even go to school.

"How do you deal with having asthma?" I ask her, remembering she left without her inhaler.

"I sit outside."

"You said you sit outside?"

"Mhm."

She just told me it was too cold. There's a pause, tense, longer than before.

"Um, I have to go eat," Kenzie says. "I'll try to call you back."

She's gone.

I race to my computer. The day before in St. Louis, it was partly cloudy and 88 degrees.


After his late-night text announcing Kenzie's whereabouts, and after inviting me over to meet the missing girl, Shelby invites me to accompany the family to the police station, where Kenzie will turn herself in. I clamber through the back and scrunch into the back seat, and on the drive through Flower Mound, I ask Kenzie how she managed, in months as a runaway, to acquire both a cat and a dog.

"I was lonely," she says. "I found the cat on the side of the highway, and I said 'I don't know if you have a home, but I'm going to take you.' She's litter-box trained."

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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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