A teenage girl has gone missing in Northern California, and authorities say she may have run off with a coach with whom she has a “romantic relationship.”
Now, 16-year-old Alexus’ devastated parents are speaking out, with her father, Ron Arther, telling ABC News in an emotional interview, “This is a father’s worst nightmare.”
Alexus, a junior at Franklin High School in Stockton, California, was reported missing on Aug. 22.
She is believed to be with 25-year-old Phillip Maglaya, a former volunteer wrestling coach at Franklin High School, with whom she is in a “romantic relationship,” according to officials with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and the Stockton Unified School District.
Alexus wrestled on the team freshman and sophomore year, her parents said.
“We were always very proud of her,” her father said Wednesday. “We always kept her motivated, always tried to push her to excel in her academics and her sports. We always gave her support and showed love to her.”
Ron Arther, overcome with emotion, said the last time he saw his daughter was when he was leaving to go to work the night before they reported her missing.
“She comes and jumps on my back, and she’s hugging me and she’s like, ‘I love you, Dad,'” he recalled. “I get up to walk out the door and she comes running over there and gives me a kiss and says, ‘Dad, I love you!’… and I’m backing out of the driveway and she’s just standing there waving.”
In the middle of the night, the teen’s mother, Iris Arther, said she noticed a milk crate style carton by her daughter’s window.
“I ran inside to her room to see that her bed had never been laid on,” she said — and that’s when she found a note.
“The first page says, ‘I love you Mom and Dad, very much, nothing that you guys did was your fault,'” Iris Arther recalled, crying.
Ron Arther said he went through his daughter’s phone log and saw numerous calls to coach Maglaya — so he called him.
Ron Arther said he asked the coach if he’d seen his daughter, and that the coach replied, “I talked to her yesterday, she was asking about dieting and nutrition and workout programs.”
“We trusted him,” Iris Arther said of the coach.
“On the day that she left she sent us an email at like 4:54 a.m., saying, ‘I’m safe, please don’t worry, I love you guys I’ll keep in touch.'”
“I feel so helpless,” her distraught father confessed.
Ron Arther said he received a text from his daughter on Tuesday that said, “Don’t worry about me I’m safe I’m at a friends house. I’ll talk to you guys again soon I love you, Mom and Dad.”
“We don’t know if it was really her that sent that text,” Iris Arther said.
“What if it was him who was doing that? I just want to hear your voice that’s all,” she said, crying.
“I would like to ask anybody out there who has seen them, knows their whereabouts, if you’re harboring them, please contact the sheriff’s department and help us get our daughter home,” Ron Arther said, before addressing his daughter directly.
“We love you very much, Alexus,” he said. “I want you to understand that we will get through this together as a family.”
“The Stockton Unified School District is working closely with law enforcement,” the school district said in a statement. “The district will not be discussing the student.”
On the day that she left she sent us an email at like 4:54 a.m., saying, ‘I’m safe, please don’t worry, I love you guys I’ll keep in touch’…I feel so helpless.
The coach was an unpaid volunteer who “worked at the high school for several weeks last winter,” “but did pass background checks,” the school district said.
“He had advised the school he would not be returning this year,” the school district said.
The teen and coach are believed to be traveling in a 1994 green Toyota extra cab truck with license plate 8G91493, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities released this photo of a similar truck:
Alexus is described as having brown hair and brown eyes. She stands at 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds.
Anyone with information is urged to call the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office at (209) 468-4400, or the Investigations Unit at (209) 468-4425.
ABC News’ Lisa Sivertsen and Christopher Godburn contributed to this report.
This article was syndicated from abcnews