Sophie Long, an 11-year-old boy from Texas, suddenly disappeared during a fierce custody battle and caused frenzied speculation online, was found.
Authorities say they found the girl living safely in an unknown country with her father, Michael Long, who refused to hand Sophie over to her biological aunt during a rights dispute. raise your children.
Both will be returned to the United States, where Mr. Long will face felony charges. Officials said they would release more information once Sophie returned home safely.
“The months of determined work by my commissioners, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshals have paid off this morning,” Sheriff Jim Skinner of the Collin County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. one statement on Saturday. “We’re glad Sophie is safe.”
Sophie’s disappearance has inspired both the Qanon conspiracy theory and the #StandwithSophie movement. Here’s what you need to know about this case:
When did the #StandwithSophie movement start?
Sophie’s parents Kelly and Michael Long divorced in 2015, but Sophie’s story first came to public attention in 2020, when Michael Long released a banned YouTube video since Sophie announced that she was sexually abused by her mother’s fiancé. In a video posted in August, Sophie said that “Mr Jake” touched her inappropriately, a reference to Kelly Long’s mother’s fiancé, Jacob Wayne Bellington, who denies wrongdoing.
The clip was widely viewed, inspiring the #StandwithSophie movement online, as well as countless calls to local police from Qanon conspirators. “.
Michael Long and his current wife continue to allege Sophie was abused at her mother’s home, including starting GoFundMe Alleging that she was “repeatedly subjected to domestic violence, sexual grooming, and most recently, sexual abuse/rape in her primary residence”. The page has raised more than $212,000.
In September 2020, attorneys for Kelly Long said these statements were “completely baselessAnd contrary to the findings of the police and health authorities, it is suggested that Michael Long is trying to gain leverage in the custody battle.
“Unfortunately, we are facing a very volatile and increasingly dangerous situation,” the statement continued. “Michael Long is unlikely to stop at the killing of his ex-wife, even if it causes massive psychological damage to his family and involves stealing money from the public through false claims. truth.”
Mr. Bellington, Kelly Long’s partner, also vehemently denied the allegation.
“To be honest with you, Michael has wasted more of my time than anyone else in my life,” Bellington said. told The Daily Beast.
“The guy is a piece of the puzzle. I was trying to get my family back together, he completely ripped it off. He’s jealous of me. He couldn’t handle the fact that I invested myself and my time in the children’s lives. He’s a lazy asshole who can’t keep a job — usually he ’empowers’ rocks, he finds rocks or ‘mystical sands’ he has on his property his parents where he lives. “
A court appointed attorney to represent the interests of Sophie and her two brothers found that the video appeared “self-produced“And” heavily edited”, recommending Kelly Long full custody of the children.
When did Sophie go missing?
Sophie was last seen in a public place on July 11, before Michael Long went into hiding with the girl. That month, he was scheduled to hand Sophie over to a separate family member, as well as ask for $20,000 to cover the cost of family reunification therapy between Sophie and her mother, but did not show up. appear in court.
The Texas Department of Public Safety subsequently issued a kidnapping newswarned, Sophie “is believed to be staying with her non-custodial parent, Michael Long, and may be en route to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Mexico or Argentina”.
“It’s been 10 days since Sophie went missing,” Kourtney Chalmers, Michael Long’s current wife, posted on Facebook in July, adding, “A psychological assessment indicates Michael is not a stable person for Sophie to be. with her and he threatened to run away from the country with her. ”
The day before the trial in August, Michael Long met with a reporter for Daily mail in an undisclosed location, where he doubled down, saying, “I absolutely want to go to jail to protect Sophie. I would do anything for her. She is a 10 year old child. “
He said he would only appear in court if he could get a full jury trial, which Kelly Long has opposed, instead asking her ex-husband to spend more than a year in prison for allegedly covering up. hide Sophie and do not cooperate in the process of raising children.
“She doesn’t have to deal with these. These highly conflicting guardianship cases are not meant to be included in a guardianship case. This is the purpose of reclaiming justice for my daughter,” added Mr. Long. “It turned out like that because the system didn’t take the action they promised. People say this is a relationship against my ex. No, it’s not. ” Daily mail The report also notes that Sophie “appears to be happy and comfortable with her father, and is eager to tell DailyMail.com about the A’s she received at school and her favorite classes, including English. and art.”
What happens now?
Authorities plan to release more details about Sophie after her safe return to the country. Michael long will face charges of interfering with child custody.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/sophie-long-missing-what-happened-b1974639.html What happened to the missing girl Sophie Long?