VANDERGRIFT (KDKA) — A mother whose teenage daughter has been missing for weeks says someone tried to use her painful situation to extort money.
It’s been 17 days since 15-year-old Lena Dixon was last seen at the Allegheny Township McDonald’s where she worked. She has not been heard from since. The only clue of what happened to her is surveillance video of the girl getting into a white Chrysler 300.
“A lot of times I’m crying, asking myself questions,” Lena’s mother, Stefanie Grantham, said. “What did I miss? Where is she? Is she gonna come home safe? Is she gonna reach out to me?”
Despite the FBI and local law enforcement’s efforts, there have been no breaks in the case, but recently there seemed to be a huge development.
Grantham received a frightening but promising text saying, “I have your daughter. Me and my men took her.”
They asked for $2,000 in exchange for Dixon’s safe return.
Grantham says all she could think was, “I was gonna get her back.”
She told investigators, but the desperate mom wanted some assurances from the person allegedly holding her daughter.
“You and your men, who are you? How do I know you have my daughter for real?” Grantham said.
The individual sending the text refused to forward a picture of Dixon and asked that Apple iTunes cards be used as ransom instead of cash. The number being used by the would-be kidnapper was apparently generated by an app to cover its origin.
What was a ray of light for Grantham turned out to be a cruel-hearted scam.
“It doesn’t make it any easier. You have no clue where my daughter is, asking for money,” Grantham said. “It’s very heartless that someone would do that to somebody that’s hurting.”
Police say this isn’t unusual. They say this kind of scam usually origins out of Russia or China from individuals who go through news feeds looking for someone in this kind of situation, then find that person’s phone number and try to rip them off.
The investigation into Dixon’s disappearance continues. Anyone with any information on her whereabouts is asked to call police.