Two sisters who had been missing since 2014 were discovered living with their mother in Pleasant Grove, Utah, on Jan. 3. The mother has been arrested for custodial interference and housing assistance fraud.
The sisters, 16-year-old Sydney and 15-year-old Danielle Wolferts, had originally been in the custody of their father, Brian Wolferts, with whom they had lived in Topeka, Kansas, KUTV reports. The girls ran away during a visit to Orem, Utah, in mid-July 2014.
Their older sister, 20-year-old Brittany Wolferts, was also originally in the custody of her father, but she moved out of the house when she was 18, KUTV reports. The sisters reportedly kept journals throughout the years detailing the physical and psychological abuse they endured from their father, although formal charges have never been filed.
"It was physical when we were younger, and then once the courts started getting involved, he switched to mental and emotional abuse," Brittany told KUTV.
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Brian denies the allegations of abuse, saying they were lies devised by his ex-wife to defame him.
"There’s a lot of talk out there, there’s a lot of accusations,” he told KSTU. “It’s a simple form of manipulation. If they can demonize me publicly, then it excuses their behaviors."
Michelle maintains that while she knows that Brian has custody of the daughters, she believed she did what was best for the daughters. She lived with them in secret and had reported that they were missing to the police, according to KSTU.
Explaining why, she said: “I feel like this amount of time was the only thing that would save them. They needed to have some peace.”
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In a 2015 episode of "Dr. Phil" which detailed the Wolferts sisters' case, the daughters said in videos posted to YouTube and sent to the show that they did not want to live with their father.
“We want our dad to stop trying to control us and stop telling hurtful lies,” said Sydney in one video.
On another occasion, Sydney says: “Our dad is abusive, and terrifying at times. He’s constantly lying and people believe his lies.”
On that same episode, Brian maintained that Michelle is the one behind these allegations.
“It’s a 180, it’s exactly the opposite of the actual situation,” he said.
Brian Wolferts told KSTU he hopes that his daughters' situation will be resolved soon and that he hopes to see them again.
“I think I’ve got the patience, and definitely the love. I’m here for them when they’re ready. And I’m going to continue to do what’s in their best interest."