ABC4 Utah

‘I love you!’: How this text message led authorities to missing student

EPHRAIM, Utah (ABC4) — A text message could be the reason a missing student from Snow College is now home safe.

Nineteen-year-old Madelyn Allen was officially reported missing Wednesday and was found Saturday.

“We were so grateful, elated, couldn’t describe the feelings we had as we embraced each other,” said Madelyn Allen’s father Jonathan Allen.

The court documents in Madelyn Allen’s disappearance case tell the public a whole lot, including the tip that led law enforcement to find her.  

Around 7:20 in the morning on Tuesday, this was before she was officially reported missing, a text message was sent from her phone to one of her parents saying, “I Love You!”

It was that random early morning text that ignited the search for their missing daughter. 

Madelyn Allen’s parents Jonathan and Tanya described the moment they heard their 19-year-old daughter was found.

“We got the phone and he called as he did many times and he said I have her and we dropped to our knees,” said Tanya.

Emotions erupted as the good news came through their phone.

It was their phone, however, that helped them find Madelyn.

“I think I speak on behalf of the entire family and many many more when I say they are exactly who we would like to become as parents, friends and disciples,” said Madelyn’s uncle Jacob Allen.

It was Madelyn’s parents that received an unusual text and not because of what it said but because of what time.

A text message was sent from Madelyn’s phone around 7 in the morning Tuesday to one of her parents saying, “I Love You!” 

The text caused parents to be concerned and they went to their cell phone carrier to find out details on the location of the phone.

Their carrier notified the parents that the text was sent from Loa, Utah which is 87 miles from Ephraim where she was last seen.

Law enforcement said that’s where they eventually found Madelyn Saturday night.

Police arrested 39-year-old Brent Brown who is facing a kidnapping charge and obstruction of justice among other felony charges.

“From our end it is amazing to see this army that has surrounded us with law enforcement with friends, family, community and those here at Snow College it has been amazing,” said Taunya.

The family spokesperson said they are grateful for the tremendous amount of help they received.

“While she is now safe, the ordeal she has been through is dangerous and traumatic,” said Madelyn’s uncle Jacob Allen. “The experience and details and effects that we have only begun to understand. She is a fighter. She is now a survivor.”

The Allen family released this statement today asking for privacy:

“Words cannot express our gratitude for the outpouring of love we have received. We are eternally grateful for Maddie’s miraculous return, for everyone who played a role in bringing her home, and for those who are now helping her begin the recovery process. We also appreciate those in the media and elsewhere who have discussed this difficult experience with sensitivity. While we hope that our experience might foster greater awareness and understanding of mental health issues, our sole focus in the coming days, weeks and months is on Maddie’s needs and those of our other children. As a result, we will be very limited in our public communication, but want you to know of our immense love and appreciation for all those who have shown such care, sensitivity, and understanding.”