Eighteen months ago, sisters Sydney, 16, and Danielle Wolferts, 15, disappeared. They had left Topeka, Kansas, on vacation to visit their mother in Orem, Utah. Now, police have arrested the teens’ mother, Michelle Wolferts, for allegedly harboring the two girls in Pleasant Grove.
Brian Wolferts, the teens’ father, was awarded sole custody of the girls and their older sister Brittany, 20. However, as Brittany told KUTV, “they ran away because my dad has been our abuser for our entire lives.”
KUTV reports that the three sisters were awarded to their father due to court technicalities. Brittany claims that many of her mother’s pleadings in court were stricken from the record because she could not afford various fees.
“When you run into this kind of corruption, where we’d been abused and were given to our abuser due to court technicalities, that’s completely wrong,” Brittany Wolferts told KUTV.
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Michelle Wolferts was arrested by Orem Police following a tip that led them to the girls, KTSU writes. Speaking on her arrest, Michelle told reporters, “My reasoning was just that I wanted them to feel like they had a choice.”
According to KUTV, old sister Brittany moved out of her father’s home when she turned 18 and has since been fighting to keep her younger sisters out of his custody. She told the station, “if they don’t feel safe around a certain parent, and they say they’ve been hurt by this parent their entire lives, I don’t understand how people can say they’re just brainwashed or they’re just lying.”
Lt. Craig Martinez of the Orem Police said the teens are currently in custody with access to legal and psychological council, KUTV reports. Martinez added, “They obviously have rights. We’d like them to voice those concerns to us. Right now, they won’t say anything…Our primary job is to get [them] to the primary caregiver that the court has seen fit for them to be with.”
KTSU writes that Brian Wolferts is reaching out to child and family services in both states. He hopes his daughters seek therapy, and return home. “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.”