ATHENS, Wis. (AP) — A Wausau woman who was 16 when she disappeared more than nine years ago has been found living outside the United States.
Connie McCallister, now 26, disappeared with her then 22-year-old boyfriend on Aug. 15, 2004, when she was an honor-roll student at Athens High School, according to Daily Herald Media (http://wdhne.ws/177ZfWV).
Judy Weise, who works at Trinity Lutheran Church in Athens and is spearheading the fundraising effort to bring her back, said Wednesday the family is reluctant to divulge certain details, including where she is now, until she's safely back in the country.
But she said McCallister told family she was drugged and taken to a foreign country against her will in 2004. At one point, she was badly beaten and treated at a hospital, where someone helped her get a new identity, Weise said. Afterward, it was difficult for her to get word to family, Weise said.
A church missionary later met McCallister, learned of her situation and about three months ago contacted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which had previously displayed McCallister's information on its website.
"We have confirmed, through conversations on Skype, that this is really Connie, and she did ask for help in getting home," said Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher. "But she won't come back without her children."
She has three children, Weise said.
Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher told the newspaper they've confirmed it is McCallister through Skype.
"She did ask for help in getting home," said Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher. "But she won't come back without her children."
He did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking an update on the then-boyfriend, who is also wanted on charges of first-degree sexual assault involving an unrelated victim.
Officials with the U.S. Consulate are working with McCallister to gather the required documents and identification records necessary for McCallister to return home, said Wausau Police Detective Kay Hansen.
McCallister's mother, Cindy McCallister, now lives in Florida, but several of Connie McCallister's family members remain in the Wausau area, Weise said.
Information from: Wausau Daily Herald Media, http://www.wausaudailyherald.com