LDS convert denies parents abducted her

The Salt Lake Tribune/May 15, 2009

Police have completed their interviews, but it's still unclear whether a mother and father will face criminal charges for taking their adult daughter from Utah to their Texas home upon learning she had become a Mormon.

On Thursday, 19-year-old Danielle Alonso, denied she had been kidnapped.

An attorney for Alonso issued a news release that stated Alonso voluntarily returned to Texas with her family, and she plans to remain there.

"The decision to return to her Texas home and family and to remain there is personal, and will remain private," said the statement issued by attorney Carl J. Kolb. "It is her own decision, and not the result of any undue influence or coercion."

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Don Hutson said a detective finished interviewing Alonso, along with Kolb, in Texas late Wednesday.

Hutson would not discuss details of the interview, and said it would take two to three days of investigating and corroborating information from her parents before any potential charges could be considered. Detectives in Salt Lake City interviewed Daniel and Gloria Alonso for about six hours on Wednesday.

Kolb's statement said Alonso met with social service professionals and assured them she was safe and "free to come and go as she chooses."

The parents' attorney, Steven Shapiro, said what police had thought was a possible kidnapping was just a misunderstanding.

Danielle called 911 about 90 minutes before her parents showed up at her Holladay apartment. She told police her father had abused her in the past and might be coming for her, Hutson said.

Police worried a feud between the 19-year-old and her parents over Danielle's recent baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have spurred the parents to take the University of Utah student to their home against her will.

The family had moved from Vernal to Rockport, Texas, in November 2008, but Danielle remained in Utah to attend college.

Police said Daniel and Gloria Alonso bought one-way plane tickets to Utah, rented a car, drove to the apartment where Danielle was staying and took her to Texas. Danielle's belongings, including her cell phone and wallet, were left behind at her apartment, near 5800 South and 2100 East.

Danielle's roommate said she was concerned for Danielle's safety after she saw Daniel Alonso put his arm around Danielle in the doorway and lead her away.

Shapiro said the parents were simply concerned that Danielle had not boarded a flight from Salt Lake City to Texas on Friday. When they picked her up on Sunday morning, the parents had only planned to take Danielle to their former Vernal home to pick up a van for her to use, Shapiro said.

But after riding with her family for a while in the car, Shapiro said Danielle decided she was OK being with her parents. The family then decided to continue on to Texas rather than circle back to Salt Lake City and pick up her belongings.

The written statement said Alonso is grateful to those who had an interest in her well-being, including law enforcement. But "she sorely regrets that a purely private matter was misunderstood, and that these misunderstandings have been highly publicized -- at the speed of light."

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