The family of a woman who went missing on a cross-country road trip with her estranged boyfriend and their children have revealed “disturbing” messages she sent them about the relationship.
Ms Ferguson had been travelling across the US from Alabama to Wyoming with her ex-boyfriend Adam Aviles Jr, and her daughters, who are four years old and 11 months old.
Her family says that she had originally left Wyoming for Alabama to allegedly flee from Mr Aviles, but called him again after she relapsed into drug use.
During her May trip back to Alabama her family says she sent some worrisome messages.
“I don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road with two kids,” Katie wrote to her stepmother Angela Ferguson, reported Fox News.
“I know you’re probably thinking well you should have thought about it and planned about it, but Adam kept following us.
“I kept seeing him everywhere. I couldn’t stay in Cody (city in Wyoming) … I’m not asking for a lot. I just need help.”
Angela told the news channel she helped her stepdaughter get a hotel room and sent her money.
“Thank you very much … We didn’t know what we’re going to do, and we’re almost out of gas,” Katie wrote back to Angela.
“We are so exhausted. We just want to get as far away from him as we can because we’re tired of looking over (our) shoulders constantly or scared to take the girls anywhere.”
Law enforcement says that when Mr Aviles Jr arrived back in Wyoming at the end of the road trip in October there was no sign of Ms Ferguson and he only had their two children with him.
According to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, during the trip, Mr Aviles Jr’s Dodge Durango vehicle was pulled over three times in different states on their way to Wyoming, the complaint states.
When the car was stopped in Colorado on 11 October, Ms Ferguson was no longer seen in it.
According to the court document, Mr Aviles Jr talked to police and said that Ms Ferguson was not with him or his two daughters for the rest of the trip because when they stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas, she “did a drug run” and had not been heard from since.
Despite being home for weeks, Mr Aviles Jr allegedly never filed a missing police report, but he told police he didn’t think she was missing but that she just didn’t want to get in contact with her mother, Ms Hartling.
On 4 November, the complaint said Mr Aviles Jr’s Dodge Durango was found dumped in the Oregon Basin area near Cody, Wyoming. The car was allegedly piled high with trash bags, so police could not see what was inside.
As they opened up the trash-filled vehicle, a sheriff claimed they could smell the odour of “putrefied blood” coming from inside the car.
Initially, police found that the car was missing its passenger seat, with Clorox wipes lying around.
A Glock pistol magazine with loaded live ammunition was allegedly found in the centre console and interior body mouldings with dried streaks of blood on them were stuffed inside the trash bags, according to the complaint.
Investigators also found a projectile hole in the front passenger door that had duct tape over the entrance and exit of the hole, possibly in an attempt to cover it up.
While investigators were still assisting the vehicle, the complaint said Mr Aviles Jr appeared out of nowhere and approached the scene with a gas canister.
Laboratory results from the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory later confirmed that dried blood had been found in the car.
Investigators also claimed they found three fired projectiles around the passenger door and blood traces on the loaded magazine and cleaning supplies and tools in the car.
On 21 November, Mr Aviles Jr was arraigned for illegal possession of ammunition, stated the United States Attorney’s Office.
Mr Aviles Jr has pleaded not guilty to possession of ammunition, and his trial has been set for 22 January, the United States Attorney’s Office said.
He is due to remain in custody until his trial. If he is convicted he could face up to 15 years in prison with three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.