The last time Jason Doggendorf saw his 14-year-old daughter it was 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and she was talking on the phone with a boy.
Cell phone and computer records show that she was up until about 2 a.m. arguing with him, her father said. But when her mother came downstairs to her room about 6 a.m. Thursday to wake her up for school, she was nowhere to be found.
Police discovered Kaylin Michelle Doggendorf strangled to death Friday night in eastern Kosciusko County, less than a mile from her home. Joshua Wright
, a 17-year-old who lives at nearby Ridinger Lake, is being held at the Whitley County Jail, charged with her murder.
Exactly what happened to Kaylin after she disappeared from her parents’ home in northwest Whitley County early Thursday is unclear – whether she left voluntarily or was abducted. And authorities aren’t releasing information about her relationship to Wright and whether she was communicating with him before her disappearance.
Jason Doggendorf said his daughter knew Wright but didn’t seem to like him much and the two were not dating. After her disappearance, police dogs picked up the girl’s scent outside their home, though the trail didn’t lead anywhere promising. There were no signs of forced entry, and Doggendorf said he’s a light sleeper and would have heard any struggle inside the house.
The case confounded both authorities and Doggendorf’s parents at first. There was no immediate evidence that she was in danger, and she had no history of running away from home, Sheriff Mark Hodges said.
Police initially worked the case as a runaway child. And Doggendorf’s parents began to hope desperately that’s all it was. But as the time grew later Thursday and into Friday, so did their worry, her father said.
“You’re hopeful that school would get out and she’d come back, but that time came and went,” Jason Doggendorf said. “Then dinnertime comes and is gone and she’s still not back.”
Her parents organized a news conference in front of television cameras Friday afternoon to ask for their daughter’s safe return.
And police stepped up their search for the girl. Neighbors said an Indiana State Police airplane circled the area Friday and officers from several departments stepped up their presence.
Jason Doggendorf talked softly about his daughter at his home on the Whitley-Kosciusko county line Saturday afternoon.
He smiled as he recalled helping her develop her softball skills. She played third base and catcher and had a knack for it – though she waffled, as any teenager, between loving softball and wanting to drop it entirely, he said.
He said has been encouraged by the outpouring of support his family has received from friends and neighbors. A memorial for Doggendorf on Facebook, which started with just eight people, had grown to more 2,100 by Saturday night.
Jason Doggendorf said he was proud of his daughter’s work in school. She was already preparing for college.
Jerry Klausing, principal of Whitko Middle School, where Doggendorf was an eighth-grader, said she was a good, solid student who stayed out of trouble and had a tight group of friends.
Klausing, at the request of police, gathered Doggendorf’s belongings from her locker and looked through them for clues. He found nothing out of the ordinary in her planner. Just a reminder written on St. Patrick’s Day: “Wear flipflops,” it said.
It was the last day she went to school.