Central Wisconsin woman missing since her disappearance in 2004 is found living in Mexico

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: November 6, 2013 - 3:56 PM

ATHENS, Wis. — A Wausau woman who was 16 when she disappeared more than nine years ago has been found living in Mexico.

Connie McCallister, now 25, disappeared with her then 22-year-old boyfriend on Aug. 15, 2004, when she was an honor-roll student at Athens High School, according to Daily Herald Media (http://wdhne.ws/177ZfWV).

"I never gave up any hope of her," said her aunt Florence Volzka, 56, of Medford, said Wednesday by phone. "I always thought she would find a way home. She is very close knit with the family."

Volzka said she first spoke with her in September through Skype and she looks the same, but with longer hair.

"I cried for an hour," she said.

She said McCallister told her the boyfriend drugged her in 2004 and took her to Mexico, where he was from. At one point, she was badly beaten and treated at a hospital, where someone helped her get a new identity, she said. Afterward, it was difficult for her to get word to family, because she didn't know Spanish, she said.

McCallister then got involved with a man who abused her, Volzka said, and then found a good man whom she ended up marrying. She now has three young daughters.

A church missionary recently met McCallister, learned of her situation and about three months ago contacted the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which had previously displayed McCallister's information on its website.

Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher told the newspaper they've confirmed it is McCallister through Skype.

"She did ask for help in getting home," said Wausau Police Capt. Greg Hagenbucher. "But she won't come back without her children."

He did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking an update on the then-boyfriend, who is also wanted on charges of first-degree sexual assault involving an unrelated victim.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Athens is spearheading the fundraising effort to bring McCallister and her children back.

Volzka said they will live with her in Medford and then move to another property in Athens when she back on her feet. She hopes to have her home by Thanksgiving.

"She's excited and she's cautious and she knows it's going to be whole new world again and she's afraid," Volzka said. "There are a lot of adjustments."

Officials with the U.S. Consulate are working with McCallister to gather the required documents and identification records necessary for McCallister to return home, said Wausau Police Detective Kay Hansen.

McCallister's mother, Cindy McCallister, now lives in Florida.

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