21 April 2024

Distraught NZ father tracks missing autistic daughter in Patiala

A missing 24-year-old Christchurch, New Zealand woman, Jessica Doody with a mental age of a 14-year-old, has been tracked and found in Patiala, a city 225 kms from New Delhi, capital of India.

Jessica who has ‘autism spectrum and suffers from dyspraxia’ was reported missing by her family on March 19 and five agencies, including Interpol, were involved in her search.

On March 28, the New Zealand police told the family that she was in India, and immediately her father Craig Doody left Christchurch for Delhi to search for her.

According to Sarah Doody, her Christchurch-based sister with whom this journalist spoke today, her father was last night successful in tracking her living in Sarabha Nagar, Patiala  with her boyfriend, Gurdeep Singh (also known as Garry).

Jessica with Gurdeep (Photo supplied)

Jessica reportedly met Gurdeep in Christchurch two years ago and both entered into a relationship immediately thereafter.

It appears, as Sarah mentioned, Jessica travelled to India via Guangzhou on March 16, using her changed name Kathleen Garry-Anttal to be with Gurdeep, who left New Zealand on December 17 last year. 

While he was in Christchurch, Gurdeep had reportedly worked in various jobs, including Pizza-Hut, as a courier and delivery driver, while she worked as a hotel cleaner. 

Gurdeep had come to New Zealand originally as a student and was on a open work visa when he was left New Zealand last December due to ‘visa irregularities’, Sarah informed.

But for the distraught father who flew halfway around the world for her, it was not the emotional reunification the family was expecting.

Speaking to this journalist, Sarah said her father was not allowed to meet his daughter alone. He met her at the Patiala police station, in the presence of Gurdeep and a number of police officials, “at least 10”.

According to Sarah, her father, Craig felt very intimidated, scared in the presence of police and was allegedly ‘forced’ to sign a piece of paper confirming that he had met his daughter and she was in good health. As per Craig, this was done even before he met Jessica.

“He was alone in a far off place, not knowing the language and felt terribly intimidated”, she added.

“He actually feared for his personal safety as the local police there asked him to leave Patiala after their meeting for ‘your own safety'”, Craig is quoted to have said.

Craig was in a bus en-route New Delhi while Sarah was in conversation with this journalist.

Jessica, it is believed, told police that she wanted to stay in India with her boyfriend and his parents, and did not want anything to do with her family, as ‘her father had beaten her’.

As alleged by Craig, his cellphone was seized by police when he tried to take a photograph of his daughter, and was returned later.

“He is in a new country without any means of communication as he was unable to buy even a phone sim despite producing his passport…We also feel let down by NZ authorities”, Sarah added.

Speaking to his family back in New Zealand, from his hotel, Craig feared “his daughter has been brainwashed and could be easily manipulated in India without the family support circle”.

“It was pretty horrendous. She’s been brainwashed and I think she has been groomed. She’s madly in love with this guy and can’t see what’s happening to her”, he is reported to have told NZ Herald.

“I was allowed to ask her five questions and she just said she was staying in India and that she totally hated the family,” Craig said.

After this brief nightmarish experience, he was escorted to the bus station this morning (India-time) for his return to New Delhi.

“I’m really concerned for her safety – I have serious safety concerns,” he told Sarah.

A worried Craig and his family have been trying to convince authorities that Jessica has mental deficiencies and needs to be reunited with her family. According to her family, she takes anti-depressants, seizure medication and mood stabilisers, and suffers from irritable bowel syndrome.

According to Jessica’s sister, Sarah, Gurdeep  had claimed to be a ‘billionaire’ and succeeded in making Jessica believe in the amazing fantasy life they would have.

Sarah says that after meeting Gurdeep, Jessica became very isolated from her own family and was in a huge debt – thanks to his spending habits and fleecing money from her.

“In fact, my mum was supporting them financially by paying their rent, buying grocery,etc. But a stage came, when she put her foot down to increasing demands for money from Gurdeep. Actually, my worried mum offered to let both stay in her home to save on rentals, but Gurdeep refused”, says Sarah.

“We always had questions about their (Jessica & Gurdeep’s) relationship, and we felt it was not genuine love that he proclaimed. It was more for him to attain his NZ residency. We would have helped him,if he was honest to us,” added Sarah.

Jessica’s family had earlier succeeded in getting an international  travel ban on her as they were afraid, she might follow Gurdeep to his native India. It appears,it was somehow lifted subsequently by police.

“She wasn’t in a position to do formalities,for example, change of name,obtaining a passport,etc”, she added.

But when she cut ties with the family, they could not do anything as she was an adult. 

Efforts are being made to get contact details of Gurdeep to get his side of story.

Meanwhile, Craig, is likely to stay put in Delhi for some more time to re-evaluate the situation and to find ways to bring Jessica back to New Zealand.

This news report was also earlier published in PressReader.com

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