For 15 days, Cymany O’Brien experienced anguish, not knowing where her niece was. She jumped at every phone call and held her breath after every knock at the door. She didn’t sleep because she worried that maybe the 16-year-old had gotten caught up in the world of sex trafficking — or worse.
“I thought someone would come tell me they had found her body,” said O’Brien, who is the legal guardian of Isabella Castillo. “That’s the place we were at.”
But when she found out the truth — that Castillo had been hiding out at her boyfriend’s house and his mother, Lori Kingrey, had hidden Castillo from family and the police — her relief of knowing Castillo was safe quickly shifted to anger.
“I’m disappointed that a parent could do that to another parent,” O’Brien said.
On Monday, 50-year-old Kingrey was sentenced to 17 days of punishment — seven days in jail, with credit for one day she served, and 10 days of community service. Her sentence includes two years of probation. Kingrey had pleaded guilty to harboring a minor, a gross misdemeanor, on Aug. 5.
“Less than 24 hours after (Castillo) left, (Kingrey) had the opportunity to do the right thing as a parent and she lied to me … (Isabella) was right there,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien had reported Castillo as missing to Vancouver police after the girl didn’t come home from school on March 25. Isabella sent a text message to O’Brien that evening that she was safe and she was sorry. When O’Brien tried to call, Castillo’s cellphone went straight to voicemail.
To help police, O’Brien handed out between 5,000 and 10,000 fliers in the Portland and Vancouver area and created a Facebook page for the search, which received more than 3,000 likes.
Police interviewed Kingrey and her son, Robert Rogers, 17, who was then also Castillo’s boyfriend, at their residence in the 900 block of West 17th Street in the Hough neighborhood. Court records indicate that they both repeatedly misled law enforcement when officers inquired whether they knew of Castillo’s whereabouts.
Rogers, who faced the same charge in Juvenile Court, entered into a diversion agreement to dismiss the charge on May 17.
Kingrey’s attorney, Meaghan McCredie, said Kingrey has a mental illness that caused her to act the way she did during the high-profile search. McCredie argued that jail was not an appropriate option because it would be detrimental to Kingrey’s mental health.
But Clark County District Court Judge Sonya Langsdorf said that the goal of sentencing is both rehabilitation and punishment.
“Two weeks of not knowing where her daughter … I … I can’t even imagine that,” she said. She told Kingrey that she harshened the sentence so that she knows the “seriousness of what you did and the pain that you caused.”
Back at home, Castillo is starting up her junior year at Vancouver Virtual Learning Academy. She has owned up to her mistake and the relationship between her and O’Brien is improving.
“She is happy to have it all behind us,” O’Brien said. “Now, time to heal.”