MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) — A family with Tennessee ties is pleading for their teenage daughter’s return home. Michaelle Van Kleef, 19, was last seen Sunday night in Wilson County at a K-9 companion training facility off of Benders Ferry Road.
The teen, who has stayed at the facility over the last few weeks, said she was going for a walk but hasn’t been heard from since.
Michaelle was supposed to return to Boston Wednesday, but instead, her parents are in Wilson County where extensive search efforts are underway.
Her family says she isn’t your typical 19-year-old.
“She’s a server. She lives her life to serve and she puts service of other people and the needs of other people before herself,” her mother Amanda Van Kleef said as she began to cry.
From the Netherlands to Papua New Guinea, serving has always been the mission of the Van Kleefs and what ultimately brought them to Clifton, Tennessee.
“My kids grew up serving and in Clifton, we saw an opportunity,” Amanda explained.
Michaelle and her sister are funding a community center in Wayne County through their music as the band “Grafted Culture.” The center later turned into an art gallery and coffee shop.
“And we gifted it to the community and it was time to move on though. Both wanted to further their college educations so we moved to Boston.”
That’s where she says Michaelle worked with the blind before coming to Mt. Juliet to take a course on K-9 companionship, living on the grounds of the training facility where she was last seen. Her mother said they spoke Sunday night.
“I noticed when she said goodbye she kind of got teary-eyed, but she cried a lot because she missed us. This is the first time she’s been away from her family.”
With tears in her eyes, the mother clinched a mustard yellow shirt of Michaelle’s, fearing her daughter was abducted, saying she lived a pure life that they protected. The mother shared a message to the person she believes is responsible.
“I want you to listen very closely, Michaelle would tell me you have a soul and you are worth praying for. So, for my daughter’s memory, I’m praying for your salvation and I’m praying God will give me a heart of forgiveness. It’s never too late to return my daughter so she can continue to live to serve others.”
Amanda also wanted to share some words with her daughter:
“I can’t reach you and I can’t put my arms around you to comfort you, but your foundations are built in the truth. Repeat those truths to yourself, never let those get taken. You know who your heavenly father is and you know he’s mighty and majestic. You know you’re the daughter of a king.”
The family says they have had a compassionate showing of support and will likely plan a community search effort for Thursday.
“And if they help bring her home they’ve helped restore another warrior for God’s kingdom to bring love on this earth,” her mom cried.
There is a $25,000 reward for information that leads to finding Michaelle. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, black pants and black boots.
If you have any information call Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 615-444-1412 or call the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-TBI-FIND.