An autistic woman with the mental age of a young teenager secretly changed her name, got a new passport, and travelled to India to be with her boyfriend.
Five agencies, including Interpol, have been involved in the hunt for Jessica Doody, whose family have tracked her to the southeastern Punjab city of Patiala but have been unable to persuade local police to get her on a flight home.
They say she fell $50,000 into debt when she was with her boyfriend in New Zealand and would be easily manipulated in India.
Doody, aged 24, flew to northern India via Guangzhou on March 16, travelling as Kathleen Gray-Anttal, to be reunited with her boyfriend, Gurdeep Singh, aka Garry Anttal.
Singh left New Zealand on December 17 last year, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) confirmed last night.
Doody's Christchurch family said the naive, innocent woman, who is on the autism spectrum and suffers from dyspraxia, would be terrified without her support network. They were so concerned she would leave for India that they had earlier succeeded in getting a court-imposed travel ban on her original passport.
After the family filed a missing persons report last month, New Zealand police told them last Wednesday that Doody had left the country and was now in India.
Doody's phone has since been switched off and her Facebook account disabled.
Jessica's father, Craig Doody, immediately booked flights to New Delhi, and after waiting in Thailand for four days while a visa application was processed, he's been desperately searching for her.
In an email to the family, seen by the Herald, the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi say local police traced Singh's family to a flat in Patiala. His parents said they had seen him and Doody.
Local police officers showed up at Craig Doody's Patiala hotel late yesterday to say they had his daughter.
He was allowed to see her at the police station, only after promising he wouldn't get violent with her, the family say.
The father was only allowed to ask her five questions and was accompanied by the local police commissioner, 10 other police officers, and her boyfriend Singh.
His cellphone was confiscated after he tried to take a photograph of his daughter.
"Dad asked her what's going on. She said she didn't want to go home," elder sister Sarah Doody, 26, told the Herald from her Christchurch home last night where she waited worriedly with her mother, Bridget Gray.
"She told him that he and mum put her in a room for three weeks and beat her and doesn't want to go home to the violence.
"She said she was ok. She hates us. We're the worst people in the world.
"She basically didn't want anything to do with dad.
"Jessica said she's been staying with his parents all this time and they've been lovely to her.
"I pushed police to let me to speak to her on the phone. I asked her what's the weather outside? She was stuttering and couldn't answer the question."
Both Sarah and Craig Doody impressed on authorities that Jessica has mental deficiencies and needs to be reunited with her family.
But now, Sarah says her father has been told by police he must leave the city and return to New Delhi "for his own safety".
"Dad feels scared, intimidated, lost, worried. Every nightmare is running through his head," Sarah said.
Last night, police confirmed Doody was reported missing by her family on March 19.
"Police made a number of inquiries with family members and acquaintances of Jessica's. Information obtained from them suggested that Jessica may have been planning to travel overseas," a police spokeswoman said.
"We understand the significant concerns that Jessica's family has for her welfare, and we have put them in touch with MFAT to see what assistance can be provided on the ground in India."
New Zealand police have alerted the global police agency Interpol who are "doing what they can to assist".
Doody met Singh in Christchurch two years ago, her family says. They soon entered into a relationship and after a fortnight had moved in together.
Singh variously worked in a fast-food pizza outlet, as a courier and delivery driver.
"At the start of the relationship, Garry told her he was a billionaire and that Maroon 5 would play at their wedding," Sarah says.
"Jessica believed in this amazing fantasy life they would have and became very isolated from us and was soon racking up debt."
Doody, who worked as a hotel cleaner, fell more than $50,000 into debt, after buying two cars and covering rent, her family say.
When Singh asked Doody to travel to India with him for a holiday, her family rejected the idea. They wanted a family member to accompany Doody, who has a mental age of 14 and takes anti-depressants, seizure medication and mood stabilisers, while also suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Eventually, they got a court-imposed travel ban to block Doody from leaving the country.
They also started the legal process to gain power of attorney and property rights over Doody, worried that she was getting into financial strife.
When Singh left New Zealand last December, Doody was distraught.
She cut ties with her family before father Craig found her at an ex-boyfriend's house where she had suitcases packed and "ready to go".
"We couldn't do anything as she is an adult," Sarah said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing consular assistance to Doody's family.