Orem teens missing 18 months being treated like 'criminals', sister says
(KUTV) Dozen of people supporting two teens, found with their mother after missing for 18 months, dotted the sidewalks of Orem's State Street Saturday morning.
Many of those participating in the rally held signs, urging people to Google "Wolferts Blog."
They stood with duct tape across their mouths as a symbolism that Sydney, 16, and Danielle Wolferts,15, have been silenced and not allowed to talk about the abuse they claim their father has put them through.
"These allegations have never been heard before in court," said the girls' older sister, Brittany Wolferts. "They have never had a chance to speak about it. They know what they have been through. And they felt the only way to escape was by running."
Sydney and Danielle ran away from their father, who had custody in Kansas, while visiting their mother, Michelle Wolferts, in July of 2014.
They claim their father abused them physically, emotionally and mentally.
In an exclusive interview, Michelle Wolferts told 2News her daughters spoke often of running away and that she was concerned when it happened -- but also confident they had found friends who would offer them safety and shelter.
"I joined up with them, and they were with me most of the time," Wolferts said.
Once she reconnected with them, she said she kept them in hiding for nearly 18 months.
The girls were discovered on Jan. 3 in Pleasant Grove at their mother's apartment.
Michelle Wolferts was booked into the Utah County Jail on several charges.
"I just couldn't live with myself knowing my daughters would have spent the rest of their lives not being able to function," she said. "That's what happens when children are hurt over and over. My children were on the verge of mental breakdowns. I had no choice but to try to help them."
Sydney and Danielle were taken to the Slate Canyon Youth Correctional Facility. Orem Police Officers said they were not talking or cooperating with police.
Brittany Wolferts told 2News her father was awarded custody of her younger sisters after their mother was held in contempt of court for technicalities.
"He got custody because of a default," she said.
The Wolferts separated after 12 years of marriage when the girls were 3 and 5-years-old. When they turned 10 and 11-years-old is when their father got custody.
"It's time to talk about this abuse," Brittany Wolferts said. "We have tried to go through the legal system for more than 10 years. It has offered my sisters no protection. I waited it out; because I was almost 18. But they are terrified they are going to be sent back to Kansas to be with our father."
Brian Wolferts, the girl's father, claims their mother brainwashed his daughters.
"Their mother lost custody because of brainwashing and alienating them from me," said Brian Wolferts, who moved to Topeka, Kansas with his daughters."
Brittany Wolferts said she was verbally, emotionally and physically abused and she has witnessed the abuse between her father and younger sisters. She claims there were professionals who testified in court that the girls had been brainwashed - but that those people had never met with Brittany or her sisters.
"My dad had full custody of my sisters for four years, so there is no way brainwashing was occurring from my mother. They weren't around her," Brittany said. "The girls had been with my dad the whole time. His brainwash claims are false."
During Saturday's rally, a friend who spoke with Danielle and Sydney less than an hour before they fled in 2014, said the girls felt they had no choice.
"They felt hopeless, and they felt there was no other recourse other than to run," Randy Hyde said. "They were desperate and wanted to be heard. And now they are being isolated ... They need to be in a place where it's safe to talk."
Those at the rally said there will be a court hearing Monday morning to further determine the appropriate location for Sydney and Danielle.
"I am concerned," Brittany Wolferts said. "They will not be represented. They do not have an attorney. They need a voice. If they are allotted a guardian ad litem, I am still worried. We have had guardian ad litems who have not accurately spoken for us in the past."
Follow Brittany Tait on Twitter @Brittany2News.