Cops Fear Missing 19-Year-Old Brittney Kustes May Be With Sex Offender

The man had held the young woman for several days when she was 17.

July 24, 2010, 4:48 PM

July 24, 2010— -- A Kentucky 19-year-old who has been missing for more than a week may be with a convicted sex offender who held her against her will more than a year ago, police said.

Brittney Kustes was last seen at her grandparents' swimming pool in Brooks, Ky., on July 17 and her mother reported her missing two days later. Police said they have reason to believe she is with Roy Vernon Elwell, 34, who has kidnapping and unlawful containment convictions on his record.

"He's a pretty bad dude," Bullitt County Sheriff's Department Det. Scotty McGaha said. "He's a person of interest. We want to talk to him. We haven't been able to find him."

Laurie Kustes, Brittney's mother, said the 19-year-old was supposed to testify against Elwell next week, but McGaha said he could not confirm that and did not know what the case involved.

Elwell was not at the address were he is registered as a convicted sex offender, and police came up empty at other locations they checked, McGaha said.

But one of those places was a home in Spencer County, Ky., where a woman told police she had been with Elwell, McGaha said. When Bullitt County investigators contacted their counterparts in Spencer County to ask them to look into the tip, they were told that a dead body had been found at the house this past week.

The Kentucky State Police have opened a death investigation in the case, but McGaha said it was not known whether there is any conection to Elwell.

Kustes was last seen by a friend who was swimming with her at her grandparents' pool on July 17, her mother said.

"[The friend] said Vernon drove up and down the street a couple times looking for her, and the next thing he knew she was gone with him," Laurie Kustes told

The young woman was seen on Tuesday, by a woman who described her as having black marks, bruises and tears on her face, Kustes said. The woman said that when she approached Brittney, who was in a small gold car, to ask if she needed help, a man yelled at her to get away and they drove off.

Brittney Kustes' first involvment with Elwell began a year and a half ago, when she was 17, McGaha said.

"It's my understanding she was not with him willingly," the detective said.

Her mother said that when Brittany came back that time, after being held several days, she was addicted to methamphetamine.

"She was into the drug world and that's how she met this scum," Laurie Kustes said. "He was holding her against her will."

Since then, Brittney went to rehab and has been able to kick her addiction. She got a job and was "really happy," and there was no way she would have gone with the man willingly, her mother said.

"She's terrified of this guy," she said.

"She was doing great and we talked every day," Lori Kustes said. "There [were] no problems for her to take off and leave. She hated this guy, actually, for what he turned her life into."

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