ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania teenager who was missing along with the father of one of her friends was returned home after the two were found in Mexico, authorities said.
The man is in custody.
Federal agents and Mexican authorities found Amy Yu, 16, and Kevin Esterly, 45, in Puerto Morelos — a resort town about 20 miles from Playa del Carmen — on March 17, almost two weeks after the girl was reported missing. They were flown to Miami.
Police said the girl, who was in good health, arrived on March 18 in Philadelphia and was taken home to Allentown where she lives with her mother and younger brother. They had been apart from Yu’s father, who lives in China, since she was a small child.
Esterly, a married father of four, will face a felony charge of child custody interference.
An official with the state attorney’s office in Miami said Esterly appeared in a Dade County courtroom o March 19 and agreed to be extradited sometime in the next two weeks.
The girl’s mother, Miu Luu, told The (Allentown) Morning Call that she cried from relief after being told that the pair had been located.
“For two weeks, I’ve had trouble sleeping and eating,” Luu told the paper. “I’m very happy.”
They had been missing since March 5, when local police said they bought one-way tickets from Philadelphia to Dallas and then headed to Cancun. Police said they believed the teen went willingly with Esterly, who had signed her out of school 10 times in the last few months. The girl had altered her student records to list Esterly as her stepfather, said Gary Hammer, of the Colonial Regional Police Department.
Amy’s family previously said the two met at church years ago, and the 16-year-old girl is friends with one of Esterly’s daughters. Esterly’s wife, Stacy Esterly, said earlier through her lawyer that she and her husband have been fighting constantly since the summer about his relationship with Amy, the Morning Call said.
Her attorney, John Waldron, told the newspaper that his client was “very happy and relieved” to learn that the girl and her husband had been found.
“She wants Amy home with her mom, that is what she has always wanted,” Waldron said. “She is glad that Amy is safe and that Kevin is with authorities.”