GARDEN CITY -- It's been nearly a year since Jen Reed says she escaped the man who abducted her as a teen. Now, she's still scared and facing personal obstacles, but she is thankful for the protection she's getting locally.
Reed says she was taken by George Craigen, a man she says had been dating her mother. She says her mother took her out of school as a young teen and moved them to Hawaii with Craigen. One night, she says things got violent. Soon after, she says Craigen took her with him, away from her mother. She was 15-years-old at the time. For 11 years, she was terrified and stayed with him.
I was so scared, I didn't know what to do, Reed said.
Over the years, Craigen and Reed state-hopped and were constantly on the run.
There was no clues. There was no, nobody's spotted. Nobody knew anything, Everett Meeks, Reed's father, said.
Meeks spent hours on the computer trying to find clues to locate Reed, and he says many times, he felt like it was impossible she could even be alive. Reed says she also did a lot of wondering.
[I thought] Am I ever going to see my family again? Are they even still looking for me? And mostly I spent it in fear. He was horrible, Jen Reed said. :
Then last spring, seemingly out of the blue, Reed called home and talked to her father. She made the call from Oregon, where she was living.
We told the police, and they said don't go back to the house. Just come straight to the police station. Your father is on his way to pick you up, and four hours later they came and got me and we left. We didn't turn back, didn't look back, Reed said.
Her father and stepmother, Stephanie Meeks, drove straight to Reed. Stephanie Meeks had never even met Reed, but without question, they picked up Reed and her daughter Bryanna, a little girl Reed says Craigen fathered. Now Jen and Bryanna both live with the Meeks.
We share the love and we're just really united and tight-knit, and I'm proud of that, Stephanie Meeks said.
After Reed left for her father's house, she feared for her life. He did end up in jail for unrelated charges, but then was released at the end of last year.
There was a potential he was coming here, Stephanie Meeks said.
Scared for the family's safety, the Meeks called Garden City Police. The department agreed to help the family.
The entire time from the time Jen arrived at our house... and even up until today, Garden City Police has always kept tight tabs on us, Stephanie Meeks said. They have always made sure we were safe and they put us into protective custody in conjunction with the detectives, the Garden City detectives and the FBI, and we are so extremely grateful for how swiftly they moved. They were fantastic.
If he was to make an attempt to get over here, they wanted to make sure they get him before he gets us, Everett Meeks said.
It was a scary experience, but [the police] did an awesome job and I'm so grateful for everything that they have done, Reed said.
Police even took the family to a secret hiding place while Craigen was out of jail. It turned out that wouldn't be long because shortly after Reed and her family went into protective custody, Craigen was accused of murdering his neighbor in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. With that charge and others, he is back in jail in Oregon. Though he is in jail, Reed is still cautious.
I am scared that he is still trying to have people find out where I'm at, Reed said.
Knowing Garden City officers and detectives are still keeping an eye on her, Reed does feel safer and is moving her life ahead.
Re--learning life. I finally have control of my life, Reed said. I'm very excited to start a new future.
The family came forward with their story because they want to thank the Garden City Police Department, and they want others in potentially dangerous relationships to know police can help them.
The Meeks keep in touch with the officers who protected them and are thankful the police were ready to help. We make cookies for them and everything.
Reed's family says they are working on her case with the FBI, but Craigen has not been charged with taking her. Right now, they are watching to see what happens with his murder case in Oregon.