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Mom wants to know about daughter

Schnee Bedford, 18, has faded from her Medford family's life after turning to meth

Riki Bedford has no illusions about fairy-tale endings. A year and a half after her drug-affected teenage daughter abandoned her infant son and disappeared, her family just wants to know if she is still alive.

Things began to crumble two months after the family moved to Medford from Santa Rosa, Calif.

It started when 15-year-old Schnee started skipping classes at South Medford High School. After repeated calls from the school, the Bedfords began tracking Schnee's movements. They found her new friends' parents actually enabled to their daughter to hide out at their homes and places of work during school days.

Soon, the girl was hanging around methamphetamine users. She first ran away from home in April 2002. In an attempt to learn about her daughter's secret life, Riki Bedford read the girl's diary. She learned Schnee was sexually involved with an older man who happened to be an illegal immigrant.

They called the police, who charged the man with three counts of statutory rape and had him deported to Mexico, Bedford said.

— Soon, Schnee became strung out on methamphetamine. She was no longer the smiling girl with braces seen in one of the last photographs taken of her before her disappearance. The drug wrecked her physically and psychologically, Riki Bedford said.

An October 2002 stint in a Portland drug rehab center didn't help. Neither did various other state and community programs meant to help troubled teens get their lives together.

A brief reprieve came in early 2003 when Schnee became pregnant with her son Mateo. The father worked hard and wanted to take Schnee away from the drug-using Medford crowd. They moved to Grants Pass, where life began to make sense again.

She was clean and sober during the pregnancy, Riki Bedford said. She started to be our Schnee again. She wrote letters to her brother. She loved to write.

After Mateo's birth in November 2003, Schnee began using drugs again. She disappeared in the Medford area.

Mateo's father drove to Medford to look for her. During the search he was pulled over by a police officer and arrested on an immigration hold. He was deported and the Bedfords decided to put Mateo into foster care instead of adopting him themselves. They didn't want the child to be traumatized by Schnee's behavior if she were to return to the family.

I still feel that was the best decision, Bedford said.

Bedford believes Schnee blamed her for losing her son. They rarely spoke. Finally, on Feb. 4, 2004, three months after her son's birth, Schnee disappeared. The Bedfords have not heard from her since.

One of Schnee's friends told Central Point police Detective Kris Allison that she has talked with Schnee since she disappeared. She told the detective Schnee was somewhere in California, but she didn't know where.

Schnee is 18 years old now. She has tattoos on both arms, one shows two hearts connected by a banner. The last time her family saw her she had long, light brown hair. She no longer has braces.

A year and a half later, the Bedfords are left speculating about their daughter's fate.

Is she being used in drug trafficking? Is she being used in prostitution? Bedford said. Or has she been taken under the wing of a good family? We don't know what to do.

Police are asking that anyone with information on her whereabouts call 541-664-5578.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail Mom wants to know about daughter"cconrad@mailtribune.com.