A family friend of two teenage girls who went missing in April 2015 has been charged with their kidnapping. Amanda Hellmann was taken into custody on March 11 and charged with the second-degree kidnapping of Ky-Lea, 14, and Shaeleen, 16, Fortner. The pair, who were in foster care, were last seen while waiting for their school bus in Binghamton, New York. They were found at Hellmann’s Vestal, New York, home, some 15 miles away from where they were last seen.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Say That Hellmann Held the 2 Teens Against Their Will
The Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin reports that authorities are alleging that Wellmann held the girls against their will and refused to let them return to the foster home. The complaint against Wellmann, according to the Press & Sun Bulletin, reads, “During the course of the next 11 months, Hellman, who is not related to either child, conducted numerous acts to prevent law enforcement from returning the two children to their foster parents.”
2. Her Neighbors Had No Idea the Girls Had Been Kidnapped
WENY reports that Hellmann lives at 327 Torrance Avenue in Vestal. The town of Vestal is just under 200 miles north west of New York City. Speaking to neighbors, the Binghamton Press & Bulletin reports that other residents of Torrance Avenue had no idea that the girls were kidnapped.
One man, Randy Wike, told the newspaper, “They didn’t seem to be under duress at all, they seemed comfortable with the arrangement … they’d go prancing down the street. We had no inkling about it being an abduction.”
3. A Motive for the Alleged Kidnapping Has Not Been Made Clear
In announcing her arrest, New York State Police did not say what the motive was for the alleged kidnapping. The original plea from the New York State Police regarding the girl’s disappearance read:
New York State Police are currently looking for two teenage sisters who have been missing since April 27, 2015. Both reside with their foster family in the Town of Binghamton. They were last seen at their Susquehanna Valley school waiting to get on the school bus at the end of the day.
Ky-Lea Fortner is a 15 year old, white female, who is about 5’ 06” tall and thin build. She has medium red hair, blue eyes and a lip piercing. Ky-Lea was last seen wearing a white shirt, army pants and grey boots.
Shaeleen Fortner is a 13 year old white female, who is about 5’ 02” and thin build. She has short dark brown hair and brown eyes. Shaeleen was last seen wearing a black tank top, black leggings and converse sneakers.
The Fortner sisters are now in the care of the Broome County Family Services.
4. Hellmann Refers to Herself as Lesbian on Facebook, as Does Ky-Lea Fortner
On her Facebook page, Hellmann lists Shaeleen Fitch Fortner as her daughter. She also says that she’s a native of Vestal and that she works at a recycling company in a supervisor capacity. She also says she’s a lesbian. Hellmann writes as her favorite quote:
I dont know wut tha key 2 success is, but tha key 2 failure is tryin 2 plz everyone!
Dont bitch about ur problems to ppl, 80% dont care, and tha other 20% is happy u have em.
By tha time u notice a change in ur vision, its already caused permanent damage.
In Facebook posts featuring Ky-Lea, Hellmann refers to the teen as “Beauty Queen.”
Several photos on Hellmann’s Facebook page show her with a woman named Sid Fortner.
5. Hellmann Could Face 25 Years in Prison
Hellmann is pleading not guilty to the crime. According to New York state law, if convicted she could face a maximum of 25 years in prison. She could also face a fine of more than $5,000.