Missing Iowa woman's case baffles some, upsets others

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 21 at 12:42 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- The case of an Iowa woman who went missing in New Orleans remains a mystery. Jessica Pratt is now reunited with her family, but what exactly happened to her while visiting the Crescent City is still unclear.

Her family says that the Iowa woman came to New Orleans to make money as a club dancer during Carnival and then disappeared for about a week.

The NOPD issued a press release saying her family felt her disappearance was "uncharacteristic." Her brother came to town hitting the streets with fliers trying to track her down. Media reports show that a fundraiser was held in Iowa to help pay for expenses to find her and then Pratt resurfaced.

During the search a "Missing: Help find Jessica Pratt" Facebook page popped up which was taken down on Wednesday for a second time. However, that was not before the Facebook page's author claimed that the NOPD did very little to ensure that Pratt was OK and that it was family that found her held against her own will.

Since then, the missing person's case has received backlash from the public.

Eyewitness News has received emails from New Orleanians concerned that Pratt's family was scamming the public, raising money to find her when she wasn't really missing. However, the New Orleans Police Department says it isn't investigating any allegations of fraud connected to this case.

"She doesn't fit the profile of a runaway, she doesn't fit the profile of a sex trafficking victim, and someone who would disappear because she was kidnapped," said private investigator Monique Lessan.

One private investigator based out of California now familiar with Pratt's case said the facts just don't add up.

"My personal opinion in this kind of situation is that she just took off and possibility went to have some fun," said Lessan.

Late Wednesday night NOPD's Director of Public Affairs Remi Braden responded to the Pratt family's allegations in a written statement:

"The NOPD worked many hours on this case, from the day Ms. Pratt was reported missing until the moment she was contacted. Detectives conducted interviews with Ms. Pratt's friends and talked with at least one family member who had said he had located her himself early on. We're pleased that she is with her family tonight."

Eyewitness News tried to contact Pratt through a family member for comment, but our attempts were not returned in time for Wednesday night's newscast.

 

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