It was not a secret that Margarette “Ann” Cuauhtli wanted to leave home when she turned 17.
For years, the Arlington teen had been confiding to friends and even some family members about her troubled home life and alleged abuse at the hands of her adoptive father, Gabriel Cuauhtli, in southeast Arlington.
So when she disappeared on Oct. 11, 2001 — two weeks before her 17th birthday — and was reported the next day as a runaway to Arlington police by her father, red flags did not immediately go up.
But within months, her case takes a drastic turn.
A handful of friends and family started getting emails from Ann, saying she was being held against her will in Mexico and forced into prostitution.
“She said she was being drugged and moved from house to house and, of course I respond, I will come and get you!” remembers Ann’s former high school tennis coach, Lana Ereckson.
One of the emails sent to family contained a photograph of Ann and another teen standing in front of a monument.
“I’m no expert at this, but even I could see this thing had been photoshopped badly,” said retired Arlington police Sgt. Mark Simpson.
Gabriel Cuauhtli blamed his daughter’s fate on a bricklayer she’d been seeing behind the family’s back.
The investigation is a twisting trail that ends with a prison sentence but, still no trace of Ann.
Listen here to the latest two episodes of the Out of the Cold podcast.