Kayla Berg, a 15-year-old girl from Antigo, Wisconsin, vanished without a trace on August 11, 2009, after a friend of her brother's said that he dropped her off at about 10 p.m. at her boyfriend's house in Wausau, located roughly 34 miles from the small town of Antigo, according to a CNN report on the cold case.
See below for an update on this story.
Now, more than seven years later, a bizarre and frightening new clue may have surfaced in the long-stalled case, a clue in the form of a creepy and even horrifying video that was posted on YouTube October 11, 2009 — but noticed only in the past few months by users of the internet forum Reddit — that may show Kayla Berg bound and screaming on the floor of what appears to be a bathroom as a heavyset man walks in and closes the door behind him.
The authenticity of the video, titled "Hi Walter! I got a new gf," has not been confirmed, and some Reddit users suspect that it may be a hoax. But police in Antigo are taking the video seriously.
UPDATE, 10/12/16: Antigo police said on Wednesday that they have identified the people who appear in the video, as well as those who produced it. Though they declined to release the names of the individuals involved, the police said that the video has "no connection" to the Kayla Berg disappearance.And the anguished mother of Kayla Berg says the girl in the video bears a strong resemblance to her daughter, both in terms of her appearance and her voice, according to WBAY TV News.
In fact, the video was not even produced in Wisconsin — though again, police would not specify where it was made, other than to say it was on "the east coast."
"It's not in the area. It's on the east coast," said Antigo Police Chief Eric Roller. "We know it's not anything associated with Kayla or anything in this area."
The video was removed from YouTube for violating the Google-owned site's "policy on harassment and bullying." However, it was copied and preserved by other internet users on the site VideoPress.
View the video below. But be warned: The content of the video may be highly disturbing.
In the video, a heavyset man who appears to be in his 20s identifies himself as "Patrick" and addresses his comments to "Walter." Police are seeking the identities of either man, though amateur sleuths online have suggested that the man in the video may be addressing Walter Ellis, a Milwaukee serial killer who was apprehended just days after Kayla Berg disappeared and who died under unclear circumstances in 2013.
"Hi, Walter. I was at the mall today, and guess what happened?" the bespectacled Patrick says into the camera.
He then explains how he met his so-called "girlfriend."
"We went shopping at JC Penney's, and she tried on a lot of clothes, and she ended up buying a whole lot of them, you know what I mean? And then we decided to go and take a look at some of the jewelry at Kay Jewelers. She picked out this most awesome necklace, the most amazing necklace I've ever seen. And, I know she wanted me to buy it for her, because she kept on giving me the look, you know the look. And then we got kind of tired at the mall, and I brought her back to my place. And I know she hates cameras, Walter, but I'm going to show you anyway. Are you ready?"At that point, the video shows a girl who appears to be in her teens bound inside a small bathroom, screaming, "Why are you doing this?"The heavyset man then enters the bathroom and closes the door behind him, at which point the video cuts off.
"[It] sounded like her, looked like her, it gave me chills," Kayla Berg's mom, Hope Sprenger, told WAOW TV News in Wisconsin. "It made me sick to my stomach."
Sprenger also said that the clothing being worn by the girl seemingly held captive in the video closely resembled clothing that Kayla wore on the day she disappeared.
At the time of Berg's disappearance, police investigated the address where the friend of her brother's said that he dropped her off. Although he claimed that the address belonged to Berg's 19-year-old boyfriend, police found only a vacant residence with a notice of condemnation from the city health department.
The driver who said he dropped her off was considered a "person of interest" in the Kayla Berg disappearance, but no charges were ever filed, and his name was not released due to lack of evidence against him.
But with the discovery of the horrifying video from two months after the teen high school gymnast disappeared, police say they are now pursuing the new lead — though the authenticity of the video, as well as any link it may have to the Kayla Berg case, remains uncertain.
Another YouTube user, Altered Dimensions, reposted the video on Tuesday, digitally enhancing the images in a search for clues to the video's actual time and location. Again, the images can be disturbing.
"We'll do whatever we can to find out who's in there and identify them," Antigo Police Chief Eric Roller said. "Sometimes that's hard on the web because of wherever this stuff may originate from [but] we're going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of it."
Police checked out a home in Kronenwetter, Wisconsin — in Marathon County — that they suspected may have been the address of the man in the disturbing video that may show a kidnapped Kayla Berg. But no one was home when they showed up, and the local police chief, Daniel Joling, said that the man did not live in Kronenwetter, adding that he could "attest to the fact unequivocally that the video was not taken in the residence here in the village."
[Featured Image by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]