Michelle Gately just wants to hear her daughter Kaitlyn’s voice.
Even if Kaitlyn says she won’t come home.
“I just want to know she’s safe,” Gately, of Baker City, said Wednesday morning, Nov. 3, five days after she last saw her 17-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn Rose Gately.
That was at Baker High School on Oct. 28.
Michelle said she was at the high school to talk with her daughter about an appointment. Michelle said that while she was waiting near the office, her daughter walked by, talking on a cellphone that was not her own.
Michelle said she asked her daughter for the phone, but Kaitlyn refused to give it to her.
Michelle said Kaitlyn didn’t show up for a class later in the day.
She hasn’t seen, talked to or had any contact with her daughter since.
“I know nothing,” Michelle said. “It’s devastating to not have one word. I was out until 9:30 last night, driving around looking for her.”
Baker City Police posted a notice on the department’s Facebook page Monday, Nov. 1 asking for information about Kaitlyn, describing her as “missing and endangered.”
Kaitlyn was wearing blue clothing with the Disney character “Stitch” and was carrying a black backpack. She is 5-foot-4 inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds. She has brown hair with purple tinting and wears black-framed glasses.
Baker City Police Sgt. Mike Regan said police became more concerned about Kaitlyn, leading them to describe her as endangered, because they haven’t been able to confirm that she’s had any contact with anyone since leaving BHS.
Michelle has a suspicion about her daughter’s whereabouts based on an episode last year when Kaitlyn, then 16, also ran away.
Michelle said she argued with Kaitlyn, and didn’t try to stop her when she left.
“I let her go because I thought she just wanted to blow off some steam,” Michelle said.
When Kaitlyn didn’t return after a couple of hours, though, Michelle became worried.
She said she initially thought about a man, who had recently turned 20, that Kaitlyn might have had a relationship with.
Michelle said she went to the house where the man lives, knocked on the door and could hear her daughter’s voice inside.
Kaitlyn refused to leave with her mother.
Michelle said she called Baker City Police, who told the residents of the home that they couldn’t keep Kaitlyn.
“Finally she came home with me,” Michelle said. “She wasn’t happy about it.”
When Kaitlyn didn’t come home the afternoon of Oct. 28, Michelle said she immediately wondered whether Kaitlyn had gone with the man again to his home.
Michelle said the home that Baker City Police searched earlier this week is the one where the man lives.
Regan said police didn’t find Kaitlyn, but Michelle said she still wonders whether her daughter is hiding there.
“I don’t know of any other person she could possibly be talking to,” Michelle said, referring to the man with whom her daughter had a relationship.
Michelle said that last year she overheard “highly inappropriate” phone conversations between her daughter and the man.
She said she doesn’t know if they have had contact since Kaitlyn — who went by Kaitlyn Adler until about a year ago — ran away last year and went to the man’s home.
Baker City Police Chief Ty Duby said on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 3, that Michelle’s belief that her daughter is intentionally staying away from home is the most plausible explanation.
Given that there’s no evidence that Kaitlyn was abducted, Duby said there’s little if anything police can do other than what they already have, which is list Kaitlyn as a runaway on a nationwide police network.
Duby acknowledged that it’s “frustrating” to not be able to help Michelle get into contact with Kaitlyn.
But police have no legal authority to take additional steps, such as forcing the residents of the home to allow police to search again for Kaitlyn, Duby said.
Michelle said she has her daughter’s cellphone, and has been able to access Kaitlyn’s email account and some social media accounts.
Michelle said she has found no evidence that Kaitlyn, who had her laptop computer with her and uses it frequently, has used that computer to access any of her accounts since Oct. 28.
That apparent lack of activity frightens Michelle, and leads her to ponder “other scenarios” than her belief that Kaitlyn is simply hiding, possibly at the man’s house.
“If she’s not there, where is my daughter?” Michelle said. “Who else would she be with?”
Michelle said she had a call on Tuesday, Nov. 2 from an acquaintance who reported seeing a young girl in south Baker City who might have been Kaitlyn. The caller wasn’t sure, however, and the girl was not wearing the clothes that Kaitlyn was wearing on Oct. 28.
Michelle said the sighting was not near the home where Kaitlyn went after running away last year.
At this point, Michelle said, she would be satisfied just to know that Kaitlyn is safe.
“If she called now and said, ‘mom, I’m OK but I’m not coming home,’ it would be hard to accept, but it would relieve me so much,” Michelle said.