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?

"What if that's somebody's cat?" Foss asks.

"I don't care," Kenzie says. "It's too late now."

I ask "What'd you name her?"

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.

"Kitty Face."

"What?"

"Kitty Face. You know, like I kitty the fool."

"She doesn't have a mohawk," Foss says.

Eventually the conversation veers into what Kenzie is expecting at the police station. Before he picked her up from The Home Depot, Foss' dad promised that, if possible, Kenzie could stay with the Fosses in Texas. Kenzie, retelling her troubled relationship with her father, seems to think that's the best option available. But as we pull into the station, she also seems to understand that it might be a long shot.

"Is that an officer? I don't care. I'll get in his face. Bring it on, bro."

"I'm telling you," Shelby Foss says. "They might be your best friend."

We huddle in the station's "media room," a tiny space with a round table and five chairs. The first officer we meet indicates that the arrangement she's hoping for — to stay with the Fosses — may be possible. She's so happy, she even obliges when I ask her about three dark scars carved vertically down the back of her hand. A battle, she says, with a saw.

But then, after a brief disappearance, the officer returns.

"I have a little bad news for y'all," he says. "I just got off the phone with Officer Stark from St. Paul P.D.," the officer continues. "He's concerned you might flee."

"I won't," Kenzie says quickly, shaking her head once. She may be telling the truth. But she's already lied too much.

Five days after Crawford showed up at that Starbucks, and four days after Kenzie called saying she was in St. Louis, Crawford was pulled over while driving through Cameron, Texas, 150 miles south of Grand Prairie. The officer ran his ID, saw there was a warrant for his arrest and detained him to be extradited to Minnesota, where he will stand trial for deprivation of parental rights and violating a restraining order.

There was a passenger in his car, a teenage girl with purple hair who carried no identification. The officer let her ride back to the Dallas area with the driver who towed Crawford's truck back home.

Back in Dallas, Kenzie called her friend Foss and told her what happened. That's when Shelby Foss started pressing, and when his daughter fell apart: She'd been talking to Kenzie since late February. Skype, mostly, but she'd text Kenzie on Crawford's phone, too. She never knew where Kenzie stayed, but she knew she was always with Crawford, in Texas. She even met with them once, weeks back, when they all hung out at the Grapevine Mills Mall.

So no, maybe she wouldn't run if she were able to go back to the Foss house, back to her pit bull/German shepherd puppy and Kitty Face. But after five months of hiding, of lying, it doesn't matter.

Kenzie's pale face flushes. She folds her arms tightly against her chest, and her whole body seems to collapse inward. She crosses her legs. Her foot starts to shake. Suddenly, she's just a scared little girl with purple hair.

"What we have to do, we have to take you back to juvenile detainment," the officer finishes. "And you'll be transported back to Minnesota."

I search her face, waiting helplessly for her first tears to fall. They never do.

"Can I go to Starbucks first?"

She wants a Peppermint Mocha.

The officer shakes his head.

Later that day, I'll call Aunt Lisa to tell her the news. She'll be ecstatic and relieved, especially when I tell her Kenzie was in the car with Crawford. There will be more charges, more serious charges, she'll say, sounding certain. And Kenzie will be back in Minnesota, where she'll first be punished for truancy at the least. Then, Lisa says, she wants her niece, her beloved sister's daughter, to go to rehab for a couple of months. Maybe she'll get off the Marlboro Reds, the booze, the Peppermint Mochas. Maybe she'll dye her hair again. Maybe even blonde.

The police officer puts a hand on Kenzie's shoulder. She takes a long breath, then stands to hug her best friend. He walks her through a door, to a place where she can't run, while she waits for her father to arrive.

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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???

Jeremy Morgan
Jeremy Morgan

Both are in custody. Thanks from MN.

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.

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.

 
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