16-year-old Ind. teen says she was abducted, was missing for more than 20 hours
Jay Warren, Jay.Warren@wcpo.com
3:04 AM, Sep 4, 2012
3:40 PM, Sep 6, 2012
BRIGHT, Ind. - The girl who went missing for more than 20 hours in Indiana told detectives that she was abducted.
Emergency responders found Sonya Balsley around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday in the 2700 block of Sneakville Road in Bright, Ind., less than two miles from her home, and she was taken to the hospital after she had been missing for more than 20 hours. Firefighters say when they found Sonya, she was conscious, but not very alert.
The Dearborn County Prosecutor's Office said Sonya told detectives she was taken from the backyard of her home in the 2400 block of Vineyard Court in Bright, Ind., on Monday evening and they are investigating that allegation that she was taken against her will.
A description of any alleged abductors has not been released.
Sonya's father, Erik Balsley, said she was doing fine and she has been released from the hospital.
Officials are continuing an investigation around the area where she was found.
A case worker from the Dearborn County Division of Family and Children interviewed members of the Balsley family as part of the county's abduction investigation Tuesday morning.
"It's normal on anything like this," said Erik Balsley. "When there's a child involved and there's a couple of investigators, [they] just ask the kids a couple of questions on what could have happened and how my wife and I are."
Dearborn County Prosecutor Aaron Negangard offered only one statement about the case:
"We're very happy that Sonya was recovered and she was alive and she's been treated and released from the hospital. However, there was an allegation that she was taken against her will and we're looking into that and hope to get to the bottom of it," said Negangard.
Negangard wouldn't comment on any other matter including the investigation by the Division of Family and Children.
Erik told 9 News in-part what Sonya told him.
"She just said that she was taken from the yard to a vehicle and then to the woods and then moved from the woods to somewhere else," he said.
Erik said that his daughter's memory of the last 36 hours isn't good.
"She has no recollection of a lot of the events. She said she doesn't remember anyone finding her," said Erik.
The Dearborn County Sheriff's Department says Sonya went missing at 6 p.m. Monday.
Deputies along with Bright Fire and EMS, Greendale Fire and EMS, and the Miller-York Fire Department, searched the area for Sonya Monday night and continued Tuesday morning.
Around 5 a.m. Tuesday, deputies returned to the home after the family spotted the word "woods" written on condensation on the window of Sonya's bedroom.
"I know she was taken. She was taken. She was taken right out of my backyard during the day," said Penny Balsley, Sonya's mother. "That tells me they signed it today when they wrote woods. They've signed it. They've got her."
Penny said the family had been receiving threats at their home in recent weeks after a conflict with another relative who used to live in the home. Erik and Penny currently care for eight adopted children from ages 5 to 18 with a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.
"Sonya said that he told her that if she told anything she knew about his life that he had friends who would drag her into the woods, kill her and no one would ever find her body. For about six days, we've had a countdown in the backyard," said Erik. "Yesterday was the end of the countdown. We found a note in our backyard that said 'waiting to make our move'."
Detective Shane McHenry told 9 News deputies have responded to the home multiple times in the last six weeks for reports of threats and harassment. McHenry says it's all part of their investigation.
Anyone with information about Sonya's disappearance is asked to contact Dearborn County Dispatch at 812-537-3571 or the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit at 812-537-3571.