While parents generally do what they can to raise their kids in the best way possible, they aren’t the only influence on a child’s development. That’s why it’s always a good thing for a parent when their child develops a close friendship with a great kid, especially if that kid comes from a good family.
And while those friends can be a great influence, one can never know exactly what kind of person their child is getting involved with. Usually things work out just fine but like most other things in life, children’s friendships can sometimes have terrible results…
When Amy was a girl growing up in a single parent home in Allentown, PA, things weren’t always so easy for her or her mother Miu. That’s why in 2009 when Amy met Jane when she was 8, it would be the start of a special relationship for both families.
Amy and Jane’s families met one day at a church in Lowhill Township and the 2 girls would fast become friends. Jane was the oldest of the 4 daughters of Kevin and Stacey, meaning her parents were very used to having a house full of girls. For that reason, they never had a problem with Amy coming by their home to hang out with her friend…
And Miu never had a problem with Amy visiting Jane’s family. Kevin and Stacey seemed like good parents and good people. In Miu’s eyes, it was a way for her daughter to have a great time around good influences and it was a bit of free babysitting for one of her 2 kids as well.
Going On Trips
Over the years, Amy and Jane became such good friends that Amy would do more than just visit her friends’ home. She would spend nights there and eventually, would go along with Jane, Kevin, Stacey, and the other girls as they went on camping and beach trips…
Always a Pleasure
There was never any problems associated with Amy spending the night or traveling with Jane. Everyone seemed to be happy with the arrangement, so much so that Amy was becoming close with not just Jane but Kevin, Stacey and the other sisters as well.
But in 2017, that closeness would become a source of suspicion for Miu. Where before she was happy that her daughter had such a close friend and what was almost a second family, she became increasingly uncomfortable with little things she was noticing between Amy and one member of Jane’s family…
Not The Only One
Miu wasn’t the only one who thought something was off. Stacey had also become suspicious of the supposedly father-daughter-like relationship between her husband Kevin and Amy. The 2 mothers had begun to notice little things, moments where the body language between the Kevin and Amy looked more romantic than parental.
At the time, Miu and Stacey had no concrete evidence that anything wrong was going on. But then one day in February of 2018, Miu went to pick up the now 16-year-old Amy from school only to find out she wasn’t there. The school told her that Amy had already been picked up by her “stepfather.” The only problem was, Amy didn’t have a stepfather…
Not the First Time
According to the school documents, Amy Yu had listed Kevin Esterly, the father of her friend, as her stepfather. Worse, Kevin had signed Amy out of school 10 different times since November without Miu’s knowledge or permission. Prompted by that information, Miu confronted Kevin about his interactions with her daughter.
When Miu confronted him about the secret pickups and clandestine texting with Amy, Kevin called her suspicions “lies and speculation.” The very next day, police were called to the Esterly home after a scuffle broke out when Kevin ripped his phone away from Stacey as she was trying to look at his Facebook messages…
A few days later, Kevin and Stacey came to Miu and Amy’s home where all 4 people were involved in a shouting match. “They were yelling about they think that Amy and Kevin are sleeping together and doing stupid stuff,” said Amy’s brother John. Miu called the police, who made no arrests but told the Esterlys never to come back to the home.
Calm Before the Storm
For the next couple of weeks, there was supposedly no contact between the 2 families and things seemed to calm down. Then on March 5th, Amy went missing. Though Miu had dropped her off at the bus stop that morning she would discover that she never went to school when she went to pick her up. She would also find that Amy’s passport and personal documents were missing, as well as some of Miu’s jewelry…
Take the Money and Run
At the same time, Kevin Esterly had disappeared as well, but not before taking $4,000 out of his wife’s bank account. Amy’s family filed a missing person’s report, as did Kevin’s shortly thereafter. As police began to investigate the 45-year-old man and 16-year-old girl’s disappearances, they uncovered some disturbing information.
Since the beginning of the year, Kevin had been secretly renting a small apartment, just a few blocks away from Amy’s home, presumably where he had been meeting with the teenager. Their investigation uncovered that Kevin and Amy had driven to Philadelphia International Airport and left on a one-way flight to Cancun, Mexico…
A passenger on their flight named Frank Castrovinci spotted the pair. “My initial thoughts were, here’s a guy who adopted a girl,” he said when he first saw the middle-aged Caucasian man with the 4-foot-11 Asian teenager. “I thought it was interesting that the mother wasn’t there.”
But Frank’s impression changed over the course of the flight, based on what he saw. “It seemed odd the way she was leaning up against him and how he was rubbing her leg and it seemed like his hand was quivering a little bit,” he said. When he returned to the US and saw both of their faces in the news a few days later, he immediately recognized them.
“They know or planned to do this. I think it was both of their ideas because Amy is not that stupid,” said her brother John. Investigators also believed that Amy hadn’t been kidnapped but had gone with Kevin to Mexico willingly.
Just over a week after the pair had gone missing, Kevin and Amy were tracked down in a joint effort between US and Mexican authorities. Mexican authorities caught up with them in a resort town about 20 miles south of Cancun and arrested Kevin…
Because the age of consent is 16 in Pennsylvania, Kevin was not charged with statutory rape. Instead, he was charged with interfering with the custody of a child, a felony that would require him to register as a sex offender if convicted. Mexican authorities arranged for both he and Amy to be flown back to the United States, where Kevin would be held on $500,000 bail.
Even if he isn’t convicted, Kevin’s life has largely been destroyed by his actions. His wife filed for divorce in short order and with the high profile of the case, the stain of his and Amy’s forbidden “love” will follow him for some time. Earlier in the story we referred to the Esterly’s eldest daughter as “Jane,” as in “Jane Doe” because her name has not been released in order to protect her identity.