It’s a spring evening in Austin, Texas, and Greg Allen is waving goodbye to his four-year-old daughter. But when she doesn’t return after a routine visit to her mom, a terrible truth begins to emerge. The two have fled to Mexico, and so Greg begins a 12-year odyssey to bring Sabrina home. When she finally arrives back in the United States, though, their reunion is perhaps not quite what Greg had been hoping for.
Sabrina Allen was born on May 30, 1997, in Austin, the capital of Texas. Her father, Greg, meanwhile, was a scientist conducting engineering research at the city’s university. He had first encountered Dara Llorens, Sabrina’s mother, through a dating agency, and the pair subsequently fell in love and got married.
However, when Sabrina was three years old, Greg and Dara’s relationship hit the rocks. Then, after a messy divorce, a court ruled that Greg was in the best position to provide their daughter with a stable upbringing. But Dara was not happy with the arrangement. And, as it turns out, the Child Protection Service would begin asking questions about Sabrina’s home life.
As a consequence, Sabrina allegedly told authorities that Greg was violent towards her mother. However, according to Greg, his daughter also reportedly confessed at the same time that what she had asserted was untrue. “Sabrina told them, ‘My daddy hits my mommy, that’s a lie my mommy told me to say,’” Greg told the Daily Mail in 2014.
And while Sabrina continued to live with Greg, Dara reportedly began making threats against her ex-husband. Specifically, she told his family that she was planning on taking their daughter away. Terrified, Greg went on to notify the courts – although there was little that they could do in response.
In time, though, Greg and Dara’s relationship seemingly began to improve. Indeed, although the couple had clashed over visitation rights in the past, Greg later revealed that Dara eventually became more pleasant and cooperative when dealing with him. Then, on April 19, 2002, Greg dropped Sabrina off at a family charity center in Austin.
And there he experienced a chilling insight into the nightmare that was to come. “I dropped her off and kissed her goodbye,” Greg recalled, “and she said, ‘Daddy, don’t ever forget me.’” That evening, Dara collected her daughter from the charity; she was due to return her two days later at 6:00 p.m.
However, Dara and Sabrina never arrived for their scheduled rendezvous in Austin, prompting Greg to alert the police. Sadly, though, he was too late, as the mother and daughter had seemingly disappeared. Greg then took it upon himself to hire a private investigator, who managed to track the pair to Laredo, a Texas city on the border with Mexico.
Apparently, Dara and Sabrina had made their way to Laredo, where they had caught a bus into Mexico. And determined to find his daughter, Greg followed their footsteps south. However, he soon realized that his lack of Spanish skills was holding his investigation back.
So, taking leave from his job, Greg traveled to Mexico City, where he began an intensive Spanish language course. And when he wasn’t studying, he was putting up flyers with Sabrina’s face on them around the city. He also maintained a website, findsabrina.org, dedicated to the hunt for his missing daughter.
Then, in 2003, there was a break in the case. In a school just ten miles from where Greg had been staying, a teacher revealed that she had grown concerned about a young girl in her class. Apparently, she was unable to speak Spanish; she had also allegedly told the teacher that she missed her dad.
However, when the teacher had quizzed the girl – known as Blanca – the child supposedly revealed that she had a father in Texas; she also asked for help in tracking him down, it’s said. Eventually, then, Greg received an email from the teacher alerting him to her suspicions. “I’m convinced this is your daughter,” it read. “She is suffering in her mother’s care.”
By this time, Sabrina was deemed a missing person in the U.S.; Dara, meanwhile, was on a list of the FBI’s most wanted. By all accounts, the rescue should have been a swift and successful operation. But even though Greg gave the U.S. Embassy all the details about his daughter’s location, its response was slow. By the time that the embassy acted, in fact, Dara and Sabrina had disappeared once more.
Determined not to give up, Greg returned to his studies at the language school. There, he grew close to his teacher, a woman named Mariana, and for a year, she helped Greg in his quest to find his missing daughter. In time, the pair even married and began a family of their own.
But even though Greg found happiness again, he never stopped searching for Sabrina. Then, finally, in September 2014, the private investigator assigned to her case received a breakthrough tip. And after following that up to an apartment in Papalotla, some 80 miles east of Mexico City, he eventually struck gold.
Two weeks after that discovery, moreover, the authorities made their move. And as a result, Dara was arrested, while Sabrina was finally brought back to the United States. In total, she had been missing for 12 years. But although Greg was delighted to have his daughter back unharmed, he didn’t quite have the happy reunion he may have been hoping for.
Instead, Sabrina – now 17 – refused to reunite with her long-lost father. Apparently, Dara had gone to great lengths to conceal their identities: the mom herself had allegedly undergone plastic surgery to hide her appearance, for instance, while Sabrina’s hair had been dyed. According to Greg, Dana had even told their daughter that he had committed suicide.
Understandably, Sabrina was traumatized as the result of her ordeal. Patiently, though, Greg waited for her to be ready to see him again, letting his new wife Mariana be the point of contact for the conflicted girl. Meanwhile, Dara appeared in court, charged with aggravated kidnapping.
In December 2015, then, Dara entered a guilty plea, and in March 2016 she was handed a sentence of six years behind bars. By that time, however, the 18-year-old Sabrina was back living with her father. Going by the name Fair – a translation of her alias Blanca – she seemed to finally be on the road to forgetting her troubled past.
Today, Dara is out on parole, although she is barred from being in the same state as her daughter. Now she is campaigning on social media, claiming that her escape to Mexico was part of a last-ditch attempt to save Sabrina from sexual abuse. But thanks to the lack of concrete evidence to support Dara’s claims, it’s perhaps unlikely that she and Sabrina will be reunited any time soon.