Citizens and neighbors who spent hours searching for missing Jessie Bender, were later outraged after being told that her mother gave false and misleading information to authorities regarding her daughter’s disappearance. “There are a lot of people in the neighborhood who feel betrayed, sickened and disgusted,” Ryan Halstrum, 23, told the Victorville Daily Press.
Jessie’s mother, Melissa Bender, reported her daughter missing on February 22nd, stating her daughter was upset at having to go on a 2 month family vacation to her father’s native Porkistan. However, several days later Ms. Bender THEN told investigators she was afraid her daughter had run off with someone she had been speaking to on Facebook. Multiple law enforcement agencies then got involved, including the FBI and US Federal Marshals Service, launching a national kidnapping investigation, fearful for the girl’s safety.
Investigators spent more than a week searching for Jessie, serving several search warrants, and with the search leading as far as Chicago because Mrs. Bender claimed the fake Facebook friend lived there. “All that information was misleading,” San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said. “Whoever she was communicating with online was not a threat to her.”
As authorities began to focus on the family, it was learned that a relative was hiding Jessie to protect her from being taken to Pakistan for an ‘arranged marriage’ (I.E. SOLD INTO SLAVERY). The relative lead investigators to hotel in a nearby city, where she was found safe. Jessie Bender was well as three siblings have since been taken into child protective custody.
UPDATE: Initial reports stated the Paki was her father, however, Mohammad Khan – who is from Pakistan, is her STEPFATHER !! KHAN and Jessie’s American mother, Melissa, were planning an arranged marriage for the teen in Pakistan !! WHERE IS JESSIE’S REAL DAD?
Melissa Bender confessed that her daughter had been upset about having to go on the trip – but insisted ‘she was fine with it’, and said nothing about an arranged marriage.
Instead she claimed a man her daughter met on Facebook may have been to blame for her disappearance. In a televised appeal, Mrs Bender said: ‘He was the last person she spoke to at 1:47 in the morning. ‘I was told by her school mates that this boy was an influence on her.’
In another broadcast, Jessie’s stepfather Mohammad Khan said he found a phone number for the mystery man in Chicago and called him. He said: ‘I just told him to please send her back because otherwise you are gonna get arrested by the cops. ‘They are gonna be on you any time.’ ‘He told us he don’t have her and he would contact us when he heard from her. I don’t believe on him.’
lied insisted to the Hesperia Star that her daughter had not fled because of the trip to Pakistan. ‘She didn’t really want to go but she was fine with it,’ she told the newspaper. ‘I really don’t think the trip played a role in her leaving. She was actually excited to go shopping for the trip. (UNTIL SHE found out they were shopping for a wedding dress!) I even asked her friends and they said she wasn’t upset about going so I really don’t think that was the reason.’
Detective Gerald Davenport was carrying out interviews today to determine whether the parents will face prosecution. One line of inquiry is whether there was any intention to involve Jessie in an arranged marriage in Pakistan while she was under age. Police also slammed the Bender family for ‘misleading’ them over Jessie’s disappearance, wasting time and resources. Hesperia Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Roxanne Walker added: ‘Bender family members misled detectives and withheld critical information and as a result delayed the investigation and recovery of their daughter Jessie Bender.’