Amy Yu, the 16-year-old Pennsylvania girl who was reported missing nearly two weeks ago, has been found. Mexican police, the U.S. Marshals Service, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers found Yu, along with 45-year-old Kevin Esterly, in the resort town of Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Esterly is the father of Yu’s best friend.
Amy has been returned home while Esterly, a concrete contractor, has been arrested and is being held in Miami, according to the Morning Call. The married father-of-four faces charges of felony interference of the custody of a minor and is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
John Waldron, who is representing Stacey Esterly, Kevin’s wife, said that Esterly has been calling her from prison. He said she hasn’t accepted his calls.
According to WFMZ, court documents show that before Yu and Esterly went missing, the middle-aged man had signed the girl out of Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School on 10 different occasions without her family’s permission. Amy had reportedly listed Kevin as her stepfather on emergency contact forms. Allentown Police Chief William Reinik told CNN that Yu and Esterly had a relationship that had been “going on for at least a year.”
Investigators believe the 16-year-old, Amy Yu, willingly disappeared with Kevin Esterly, a father of two. https://t.co/i8IBBDUvnn
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) March 18, 2018
ABC News reports that on Feb. 9, Miu Luu, Amy’s mother, went to pick up her daughter at school and found that Esterly had already signed her out. On the same day, she confronted Esterly and the school prohibited him from school grounds. On Feb. 15, Allentown police paid Esterly and his wife a visit and advised them to stay away from Amy and her mother.
According to Waldron, Stacey and Kevin Esterly had been fighting for the past eight months over his relationship with Yu, who was best friends with their eldest daughter. The family has reportedly known Yu since she was about 7-years-old. They all went to the same church in Lehigh County and the Esterlys often took Amy along on vacations. Waldron said that she was treated almost like a “fifth daughter.”
Family, neighbors react to Amy Yu's return to Allentown, Kevin Esterly's arresthttps://t.co/tu24K70jGK
— WFMZ-TV 69News (@69News) March 19, 2018
But the relationship between Amy and Kevin reportedly changed sometime in the summer. According to Waldron, Kevin had developed an “obsession” over Amy and that this had led to him losing his job. He also began renting a second apartment just four blocks away from Amy’s home. He kept the apartment a secret from his own family.
“He couldn’t help himself, he couldn’t stop,” Waldron said.
Meanwhile, Amy’s mother was reportedly unaware of the full extent of her daughter’s relationship with Esterly. Luu filed a missing person’s report on March 5, the same day Yu and Esterly flew to Mexico. Luu told police that she had dropped Amy off at the bus stop, but that the teenager never made it to school. She later discovered that Amy’s passport was gone, as were some personal documents and clothing. She had also taken some of Luu’s jewelry.
Esterly’s family reported him missing on March 7. His wife discovered that he had taken $4,000 from her account before he left. The following day, police discovered that he and Yu had taken a flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Cancun, Mexico.
On Thursday, Mexican authorities issued an Amber Alert for Amy. It indicated that the 16-year-old “may be a victim of a crime” and that Esterly was a suspect in her disappearance.
According to the Morning Call, Luu cried with relief when she got the call that Amy had been found “in good health.”
“For two weeks, I’ve had trouble sleeping and eating.”
Stacey Esterly is “happy and relieved” that Amy has been found, her lawyer said.
“She wants Amy home with her mom, that is what she has always wanted. She is glad that Amy is safe and that Kevin is with authorities.”