For some parents, raising a teenager could be a form of probation. Truly, helping rule-breakers, boundary-pushers, and masses of emotions and hormones navigate the world is no easy task.
So when Maureen Gullet’s 14-year-old daughter, Rosemary, went missing one night, the Oregon mom assumed it was just one of the many hiccups in raising a rebellious teenager. When the teen didn’t come home at all, however, Maureen knew something more than teenage hormones was at play.
Authorities launched a nationwide investigation into Rosemary’s whereabouts, and it turned up mostly fruitless. But then Maureen checked her Facebook page one day, and the whole investigation was flipped on its head…
Raising a teenager can be difficult. Young adults are moody, combative, and rebellious as they try to navigate their way through the world while experiencing a complex array of emotions. Portland, Oregon, resident Rosemary Gullet, 14, was no exception.
Rosemary and her mother, Maureen, didn’t always get along. Then again, what mother has a perfect relationship with her teenager? Still, Maureen loved her daughter, as she proved in the coming months…
On June 22, 2015, Maureen woke to find Rosemary’s bed empty. Staying out all night without calling her was par for the course when it came to the teenagers, so at first, Maureen didn’t worry. Then things took a turn towards the dramatic…
When Rosemary didn’t return for more than two days, real panic set in. Maureen filed a missing persons report and called the authorities, who simply assumed that Rosemary had just run away.
Maureen never truly bought the notion that her daughter would run away for that long. Her instincts turned out to be correct once Rosemary’s disappearance stretched from days to weeks to months. There was no no way her daughter had simply run away.
Still, without any evidence left behind, authorities didn’t have many leads. The situation suggested she’d run away, and investigators stuck by the claim. Fortunately, as months passed, people began coming forward with relevant information.
Various friends and family members claimed to have actually seen the young teen around town. Strangely, though, anytime they tried to approach her, she apparently took off running.
The strangest clue of all, however, came six months to the day Rosemary disappeared. Maureen logged into her Facebook account, scrolled through her timeline, and then saw something that nearly made her faint…
Right there on Maureen’s Facebook timeline were pictures of Rosemary. They were new pictures, taken within days, and posted by Rosemary herself. She was in a strange bedroom; it was a place Maureen had never seen before. Still, something else seemed off about the photos…
On the surface, the pictures were simple selfies, taken in front of the mirror. But Maureen saw something else in the photographs that unsettled her: her daughter looked like she acting differently.
Rosemary had dyed her hair again, but the most alarming difference to Maureen was her daughter’s smile. To an experienced mother, this one looked fake—almost as if it was the result of threats of violence or abuse.
Stuck in a nightmare situation, Maureen’s thoughts turned to the worst. Had her daughter been the victim of human trafficking? The only thing that made sense to her was that Rosemary had been kidnapped. Why else would she have never come home?
Human trafficking is not as uncommon as you might think, either. Even in developed countries like the United States, criminal enterprises take children, teenagers, and adults in order to force them into unscrupulous or physical labor.
If Maureen hadn’t been in full-on crisis mode before, she was now. She took to Facebook, pleading with her family and friends to help in any way they could. She wrote, “[Rosemary] is missing and endangered and is presumed to have fallen into the hands of child trafficking criminals. Since she disappeared, I have found images of her online.”
As bleak as the situation looked, the emergence of those Rosemary photographs lent Maureen a speck of hope; they were the first and only clues she’d had since her daughter disappeared. But as weeks passed since she found them, no further images or evidence surfaced.
Then, on January 16, 2016, Maureen’s husband, David, posted an update of the situation on Facebook. “I want to reach out and thank everyone for your prayers and support,” he wrote. “Rosemary has been found after an anonymous tip.”
When authorities questioned her, however, they found no evidence she’d been trafficked. She had run away—where to she wouldn’t say—and she just didn’t return. Even stranger than the fact that Rosemary seemed as happy as could be in her “new” life was where Rosemary is now.
Today, Rosemary and her siblings are in foster care. Despite a vocal presence on Facebook during the search, Maureen and David have become strangely quiet about their daughter’s discovery. Did something happen at home to cause Rosemary to run away? Where had she gone? Why was she now in foster care? The entire situation was shrouded in mystery. At least, in the end, Rosemary appeared to be safe.
It seems that there is more to this story than authorities or the Gullets are letting on, but one thing is for certain—this goes far beyond a mother’s typical conflicts with her teenager!
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