Search continues for missing teen
Kasandra Poshepny, 16, may have had her own reasons to disappear with her 19-year-old boyfriend, Robbie Huffman, but her family still hopes the Glen Ellen teen, who was reported as missing July 9, will call home and let them know she's all right.
Exactly what happened on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9, the last days Kasandra and Huffman were seen, remains unclear. But her sister said she is confident that Kasandra would never disappear without letting the family know she's OK.
"She would call me, if she knew how worried we are, she would call," said Jess Poshepny, 26, who is orchestrating the effort to find her sister. She is hosting a rally in Santa Rosa's Julliard Park on Wednesday, July 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. - an area Huffman was known to frequent and where several unconfirmed sightings of the couple have been reported.
Kasandra's family last saw her on Friday, July 8, when she left home to go to summer school at Sonoma Valley High School. After leaving school, she went to Healdsburg to spend the night at the home of Huffman's cousin, Steve Knox. The Knoxes said they saw the couple on Saturday morning, but said they have not heard from them since.
The last time Kasandra made a call from her cell phone was around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8, the last day her family saw her. For the following week, Kasandra's voicemail box was full, sparking an automated message from her cellphone provider. But this past weekend, someone emptied the voicemail box, although myriad calls Jess Poshepny left have gone unanswered.
"I told her I have a change of clothes for her in my car and I just want to know she's all right and take her to dinner, she doesn't have to come home," Jess Poshepny said. "If she's really checking those messages, than I know she would call."
Monique Lessan, a private investigator and owner of Eye Investigate who is working on the case pro bono, said she heard from Steve Knox and his wife, Nicole, that Kasandra was upset with her family on July 8, and asked Huffman to take her away.
"According to his family, he (Huffman) encouraged her to go home, but she didn't want to, so he took her to his cousin's house," Lessan said.
Jess Poshepny said she too heard Kasandra was upset, but has gotten various stories on who she was angry with and why. "There's a lot of stories floating around," Jess Poshepny said.
Shortly after arriving in Healdsburg, the Knoxes told Lessan, Kasandra disappeared on her own for around eight hours. Huffman, the Knoxes and their five children spent hours looking for the teen, going so far as to call Kasandra's mom, Noreen Hughes, in Rohnert Park, and they were about to notify the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office when the teen was discovered on the property.
"She went and hid for like eight hours. Everyone was looking for her, even the dogs," Lessan said, adding that when she was found she was "covered in mosquito bites."
The couple spent Friday night at the Knox's home. In the morning, Nicole Knox reportedly gave Kasandra clothing to borrow, including a bright green shirt with a small pink skull on the sleeve that the teen was last seen wearing, while she washed her clothes. Lessan said the Knoxes left their home by 10 a.m. and when they returned, the couple was gone, leaving Kasandra's clothing behind in the washing machine.
Lessan theorized that the couple might have had reason to disappear. Huffman has a previous arrest record for selling marijuana and was reportedly quite upset that the Knoxes planned on calling the Sheriff's Office when Kasandra was missing. "They may have left because they didn't want him to get in trouble with the police," Lessan said.
Jess Poshepny isn't so quick to accept that conclusion, saying the story the Knoxes initially told police does not match the story Lessan heard.
"There's several elements of this story that are different than what police got," she said. "I don't know what to believe until I hear it myself."
Huffman was driving a late 1980s Nissan pick-up truck painted primer grey. Initial reports indicated the car had a dent in the driver's door, but now family members are saying that information may be incorrect.
Jess Poshepny said Kasandra has never disappeared without notifying her family. Jess Poshepny spent last weekend tracking down myriad reported sightings across Sonoma County, reviewing surveillance video and talking to numerous witnesses, but has yet to find proof that the teen has been seen in the area.
"It's kind of getting a little ridiculous. The sightings are everywhere and none of them are her," said Jess Poshepny. "The (police) officers are starting to believe she's a runaway but I'm not believing it. This is completely out of the norm for her, she has never taken off before."
Lt. Dennis O'Leary, with the Sonoma County Sheriffs Office, confirmed that law enforcement is treating Kasandra as a runaway. They are currently calling phone numbers the teen dialed before she disappeared, but have yet to pinpoint any solid leads.
"We believe she's voluntarily missing," O'Leary said. "It's just a matter of time before she shows up somewhere."
The family and Lessan are worried the couple may have left the state. Huffman is a native of Missouri who also has family in Florida. Lessan said she tracked down Huffman's real father, who had not recently heard from the 19-year-old. Lessan said she is now trying to locate Huffman's former foster family in Missouri along with his best friend, Chance Hubbard, of Doniphan Mo.
"The family said if anybody, Chance would know where they are," Lessan said.
Jess Poshepny said, despite what anyone else says, those closest to Kasandra know she would not put her loved ones through the torment of searching for her. "There's a solid core of people who think that something is wrong," she said, adding that she will continue following up with any leads she can to find her sister.
Anyone with any information about Kasandra is asked to call Jess Poshepny at 243-3062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or O'Leary at 565-2185.
More information and fliers are available at missingkasandrarosep.com.