Missing girl LA's family fears the worst

Missing girl LA's family fears the worst

The family of a 15-year-old girl who has allegedly been kidnapped have made an emotional plea for her return. 

LA Tukerangi told her family she was being held against her will by a 36-year-old man who was recently released from jail. Her mother and father are distraught. 

"I think what we fear is that we might not ever see her again," says mother Marie Tukerangi. 

Her parents were wearing Los Angeles basketball jerseys today. They say it reminds them of their daughter, LA, named after the City of Angels. 

"People say she has the best smile," says father Chris Tukerangi. 

It's been four days since LA contacted her family via Facebook asking for help. Another message to her sister read "please call the cops". 

LA is thought to be with 36-year-old Dean Wayne Whakatau. She says he's holding her against her will. 

"Those were definitely cries for help and fearing for her life," says Mr Tukerangi. "I think she's definitely just trying to put on a brave face and she's trying to pretend for him, just to survive." 

Whakatau is just out of prison, and there's a warrant out for his arrest. He has a long history of offending and has faced charges of rape and kidnapping in the past. 

Mr Tukerangi says the 36-year-old is an adopted brother of LA's 16-year-old boyfriend. 

"This other guy must have been some sort of cool, older person to hang out with, and she's easily manipulated." 

The pair was seen in Rotorua over the weekend. Today there have been sightings as far north as Wellsford. 

Whakatau's family has come out in his defence. 3 News has been in touch with his sister. She says she met the pair a few weeks ago, that they were in a relationship, and LA told them she was 17. 

But her family say she's young and naïve, and they're pleading with Whakatau to let her go. 

"Bring her home," says Ms Tukerangi. "I just want to know if she's safe." 

They say they can't rest until they know she's okay. 

3 News