Missing Crescent City teen found, Santa Rosa stepfather arrested in Nevada

The girl had run away to live with her stepfather, a Santa Rosa man who had moved from Crescent City.|

A Crescent City teenager who had been missing since July 2021 has been found, and her stepfather, a Santa Rosa man, has been arrested and taken into custody.

Katuana Nateya Whisenant, 14, was located Saturday afternoon in Churchill County, Nevada, during a routine traffic stop by Nevada State Police. A trooper pulled over the vehicle she was traveling in with her stepfather, Santos Flores-Roman, 39, of Santa Rosa. She was unharmed and healthy, Crescent City Police Chief Richard Griffin said.

Flores-Roman was arrested and charged on suspicion of keeping a child from their parents, Griffin said.

“It’s like child abduction but different, because she voluntarily ran away,” Griffin explained.

Whisenant’s parents had been alerted and were traveling from Crescent City to Nevada to pick her up, Griffin said Saturday evening.

“Since I’m a parent myself, I could imagine what it would be like for my daughter to be gone that long. I was glad to be able to make that call to the parents,” he said. “It was the best-case scenario.”

Whisenant had run away from her parents’ home in Crescent City to Santa Rosa where her stepfather had moved. Since she is a Yurok Indian, tribal police contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which subsequently involved the FBI in the investigation.

The FBI had scheduled a meeting with Flores-Roman, “and that’s when he took off,” Griffin said.

“We had last located him in Chico based on his license plate,” he added. “Then, out of the blue we get this call that they found her. We had an arrest warrant out on him.”

Because Flores-Roman had crossed state lines, it could become a federal case, Griffin said.

Whisenant had previously run away from home to be with her stepfather, so Crescent City authorities were sure she was there, he said. They had been working with the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, the Santa Rosa Police Department and Sonoma County Probation to find her.

“Everyone was trying to locate her, and they were doing house visits. She apparently was hiding in a travel trailer at his house,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at kathleen.coates@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5209.

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