Slack co-founder's missing teen daughter found in white van with 26-year-old male suspect: 'The allure of drugs'

Over the weekend, the missing teen daughter of two tech moguls was found inside a white van in San Francisco. The girl appears to be safe, and the suspect who owns the van is now in jail.

On April 21, the 16-year-old daughter of Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield reportedly left a note to inform her family that she had run away from her home in Bolinas, California, about 30 miles from San Francisco.

Fake and Butterfield co-founded Flickr in 2004, and Butterfield later co-founded Slack, a messaging application popular with many businesses. Blaze News is not reporting their daughter’s name.

As the days ticked by without any sign from the girl, her parents and other friends and family became increasingly worried as the girl reportedly had a drug problem and had threatened to commit suicide at least once in the past. Police likewise considered the girl to be “an at-risk missing person.”

Perhaps adding further complication to the case was the fact that the girl reportedly identifies as “nonbinary” and prefers “they/them” pronouns, though previous reports did describe her as female. A press release from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office also refers to the teen as “she” on one occasion.

Through their investigation, MCSO detectives learned that the girl may have run off with Christopher “Kio” Dizefalo, a 26-year-old San Francisco parking valet identified in the press release as the teen’s “adult friend.” Dizefalo reportedly owns a white van, which was located late Saturday night in Tenderloin, a shady area of San Francisco “known for homelessness, crime, and drugs,” Business Insider reported.

Thankfully, the girl was found inside the van. She was “uninjured,” the MCSO press release said, and she apparently reiterated to detectives that she had left with the suspect “voluntarily.”

Whether the girl was a willing participant or not, Dizefalo may be in deep trouble. The MCSO press release noted vaguely that he was arrested “for multiple criminal violations,” but a review of Marin County Jail records indicates that those charges include child stealing and unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, both felonies. He remains in custody on $50,000 bail.

Still, the MCSO has also given mixed messages. Even with the felony charges against Dizefalo, MCSO spokesperson Sgt. Adam Schermerhorn told the San Francisco Standard Sunday evening, “I don’t think there was foul play related to kidnapping or anything else, which is what some people were saying is what happened.” He claimed the charges are “based on statements that were made and some work that our detectives were able to uncover.” Schermerhorn declined to comment further.

A statement from the girl’s parents and stepfather — Jyri Engeström, yet another tech mogul — expressed relief and gratitude about the teen’s safe “recovery” and suggested she may have been “groom[ed]” by the suspect.

“A heartfelt thanks to all the family, friends, volunteers and strangers who called in tips and made this recovery possible,” the statement said. “We especially want to thank the seasoned law enforcement officers who understand the very real threat of predators who use the allure of drugs to groom teenagers.”

The girl has since been returned to her family.

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