Teen sisters Ky-Lea Fortner and Shaeleen Fitch-Fortner were found at a family acquaintance’s house earlier this week, and since then the story of the two girls’ “rescue” has been plastered all over the internet. Nearly everyone assumes the teen sisters were kidnapped and that their 11-month stay at the house of Amanda Hellman was against their wills, but neither of the girls has confirmed this speculation and a recent testimony calls into question whether or not the teens really wanted to be “found” and brought back home.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 11, 2016
The teen sisters, who had been “kidnapped” from a foster home 11 months earlier, were found at the home of 29 year-old Amanda Hellman on Wednesday after police received a phone tip, according to Sky News.
What was not discussed as much, though, is that it was revealed yesterday that Hellman was actually in a lesbian relationship with the teen sisters’ biological mother, 46 year-old Cindy Fortner. This suggests that Cindy was also behind her teen daughters’ transfer to the Hellman residence, and it is quite possible that sisters Ky-Lea and Shaeleen would willingly cooperate with orders from their mother- such as the order to go live with her girlfriend.
Cindy Fortner leaves Town of Conklin court after being arraigned on a charge of second-degree kidnapping on Friday. pic.twitter.com/85hfSrbBTH
— Andrew Thayer (@Andrew_Thayer) March 12, 2016
A police source also confirmed that the sisters were close to Hellman before the kidnapping ever took place, reports The Daily Beast.
The idea that the teen sisters were staying at Hellman’s of their own free will is greatly reinforced by the recently obtained testimony of Hellman’s neighbor, Randy Wike. Wike says he had seen both girls out and about in the neighborhood without supervision plenty of times.
“On nice days, they’d be out walking. I’d see the redhead, almost on a daily basis, jump on her bike and ride down towards Front Street. It was only further on that I found out there was a relative of her family on Front Street.”
Wike continues that the girls did not seem scared when he saw them out.
“They didn’t seem to be under duress at all, they seemed comfortable with the arrangement… they’d go prancing down the street. We had no inkling about it being an abduction.”
Furthermore, neither of the sisters has made any allegations that they were being held without consent.
Admittedly, according to Press & Sun-Bulletin, neither of the sisters updated their Facebook statuses during the entire 11 month period they were at Hellman’s, which shows they were either being restrained or they were helping Hellman to conceal their location.
But the teen girls’ statuses also have not been updated in the days since they were found, suggesting that they do not feel comfortable speaking out. Since both of their alleged kidnap conspirators – Hellman and their mother – are in custody already, it seems that the only logical reason the sisters would be hesitant about airing their story on social media is because they do not actually feel like victims.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 11, 2016
And although Hellman pleaded innocent on Thursday and Cindy Fortner pleaded innocent yesterday, the case of the found teen sisters is still under heavy scrutiny and certainly not closed yet, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell told reporters in a statement made last night.
In fact, both Hellman and Fortner could face 25 years in state prison if found guilty.
Fortner leaves court pic.twitter.com/KzPFHGoSj6
— Anthony Borrelli (@PSBABorrelli) March 12, 2016
It is possible the teen sisters are remaining silent for fear that if they admit willful cooperation with the kidnapping, they could face charges themselves.
Authorities are currently operating under the assumption that the sisters’ “incarceration” at the Hellman household was not voluntary, and the girls have been turned over to the local branch of Child Services.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]