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Missing woman found alive in Kentucky; alleged captor at large

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Missing woman's mother: 'You're safe'
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Brittney Kustes was last seen July 17
  • She was driven to a drop-off point Friday night
  • Her mother says her daughter was "mentally tortured" during her disappearance
  • Police are searching for a registered sex offender believed to have been with her
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(CNN) -- A 19-year-old Kentucky woman missing for two weeks has been found, and police are searching for a registered sex offender believed to be involved in her disappearance, authorities said Monday.

Brittney Kustes was last seen July 17 at her grandparents' home in Brooks, Kentucky, just south of Louisville, Kentucky, according to Det. Scott McGaha of the Bullitt County Sheriff's Office.

Witnesses told police that sex offender Roy Vernon Elwell -- who has a history of kidnapping and unlawful confinement -- was seen driving up and down the street where Kustes' grandparents live on the day she disappeared.

"Shortly after, she was gone," McGaha said last week.

Numerous witnesses reported seeing the pair in Louisville and surrounding areas over the past two weeks.

On Friday, Kustes was driven to a drop-off point by a friend of her alleged captor, according to authorities. Kustes then called her boyfriend, who picked her up, drove her to a motel and called police.

Her mother told HLN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" Monday night that getting the news was "one of the greatest moments of my life."

"It was truly a blessing," Laurie Kustes said. "When we found her, we just stared at each other and I told her over and over you're safe now ... and she just cried and cried."

Laurie Kustes said her daughter was so "brutally, mentally tortured" during her disappearance that she was hospitalized Friday night.

"She's just really been through a lot of horrible things," she said, declining to elaborate due to the ongoing police investigation.

Brittney Kustes has a history with the 34-year-old Elwell, according to her mother.

"This guy came into my daughter's life with drugs," Laurie Kustes told CNN affiliate WHAS last week.

She said the last time Elwell was with her daughter, Brittney returned home addicted to methamphetamine, a drug habit she had recently kicked.

But Laurie Kustes said Monday that her daughter again returned from Elwell's alleged captivity hooked on drugs.

"We're going to have to start all over with drug counseling, rehab," she said. "Also, I'm going to have to get her into a psychiatrist for the past two weeks."

McGaha described Brittney Kustes as "terrified" and "extremely frightened" of Elwell, and described him as "very dangerous."

"She is not under police protection, but we are under alert to watch her," McGaha told "Issues," adding that Brittney Kustes is "at a location [Elwell] is not familiar with."

McGaha has said that Elwell knows police want to speak with him about Kustes. Friends of Elwell's have told police that he laughs off requests to come in to the sheriff's office, according to McGaha.

Meanwhile, Elwell has been found to be noncompliant with the laws of the state's sex offender registry as he continues to evade police. The Class D felony carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, McGaha said.

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