A Texas child seen last year in a viral video alleging sexual abuse has vanished—and authorities believe the disappearance is part of a deranged plot by the girl’s father.
Ten-year-old Sophie Long was last seen on July 12 in Seguin, Texas, and is “believed to be with her non-custodial parent, Michael Long,” the Texas Department of Public Safety announced in a statement, adding that the two “may be en route” to Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Mexico, or Argentina. “Michael Long is possibly driving an off white 2010 Ford Edge SUV or a gray van with blacked out windows, a [sic] NRA sticker and a black rack on top.”
Michael Long, who produced the video of Sophie claiming to have been the victim of sexual abuse by her mother’s fiancé, was described by his current wife, Kourtney Chalmers, as “not a stable person for Sophie to be with,” according to a psych eval. Chalmers posted on Facebook last Sunday that Long had repeatedly threatened to “flee the country” with the 10-year-old.
Sophie has been caught in the middle of a vicious custody battle since her parents divorced in 2015. She made headlines in August 2020 when her father posted a video online of a seemingly anguished Sophie in tears during a custody exchange, accusing “Mr. Jake”—that is, Kelly Long’s husband-to-be and Sophie’s future stepfather Jacob Wayne Bellington—of touching her inappropriately while she was in her mother’s care. The video, which went massively viral, led to the hashtag campaign #StandwithSophie. A week or so after Michael released the 20-minute video, he tried to enlist then-President Donald Trump’s help in his effort to gain sole custody of his daughter.
Bellington denied the allegations and local police almost immediately cast doubt on the underlying facts, issuing a vague announcement about Sophie being “safe and staying at a safe location.” A law firm hired by Kelly Long released a blistering statement alleging that Michael Long had manipulated Sophie into making false claims of abuse “to turn [her] against her mother.”
The attorneys argued that “extensive evidence and documents provided by medical professionals, Child Protective Services, and the Frisco Police Department of Texas show that these claims against Kelly Long are entirely unfounded,” and that a “Stand With Sophie” online fundraiser set up by Michael Long’s present wife, Kourtney Chalmers, had amassed more than $200,000 under false pretenses.
“Sophie, 9 years old, has disclosed she has been continuously subjected to domestic violence, sexual grooming, and most recently molestation/rape in her primary residence,” stated the GoFundMe page, which is now closed to donations. “Her father is fighting for her life while her abusers pull every resource to get their hands back on her.”
Not so, said Kelly Long’s lawyers.
“Michael Long has substantial financial woes, which appears to be motivation for his attempts to monetize his child custody case,” the firm’s statement read. “He filed for bankruptcy in 2011 leaving a debt of nearly $500,000. His current source of income is produced through a business that he runs with his wife Kourtney Chalmers and family in which they sell sand infused with spiritual energy online.”
“We are unfortunately dealing with a very volatile and increasingly dangerous situation,” the statement continued. “Michael Long will seemingly stop at nothing to destroy his ex-wife, even if it wreaks massive psychological damage on his family and involves stealing money from the public through false claims.”
The following month, an amicus lawyer—a neutral attorney, in plain English—deemed the video of Sophie “heavily edited,” and recommended that Sophie and her two siblings, Jack and Lucas, live with their mother, Kelly Long’s lawyers announced. They cited the unidentified amicus lawyer’s report to the court, which reportedly took Michael Long to task for rarely sending the children to school and raised concerns for the kids’ “immediate emotional health and safety while in their father’s care.” Moreover, Kelly’s lawyers claimed Michael was selling FaceTime interviews with Sophie to strangers on the internet, and hawking merch on Etsy. Kelly’s lawyer, David Routzon, did not respond to a request for comment.
Reached for comment, Kourtney Chalmers, Michael Long’s present wife and Sophie’s stepmom, was busy planning her son’s birthday party and wanted to consult her attorney before speaking out in further detail.
“I really don't want to say anything that may hurt our chances of finding Sophie,” Chalmers said, referring The Daily Beast to Jesus Lopez, a lawyer representing her and Michael. (Lopez’s office said he was unavailable to comment.)
On Facebook, Chalmers wrote that just before Sophie went missing, the court ordered Michael to turn her over to a family member that Sophie “loves and trusts. She was not going back to her mothers [sic] home at this point.” But Michael never showed.
“Michaels psyche [sic] eval did not come back favorably and Sophie is not in a stable place with him or the people he may be surrounding her with while they avoid court orders here in Texas,” Chalmers continued. “Please DO NOT pollute the genuine information with speculation and rumors. This will only make it harder to find Sophie. Michael has been threatening to run with her for some time now. All officials involved are aware of the threats to stay on the run permanently and are taking the situation seriously. At least they assure me they are doing everything they can to recover her safely.”
In a phone interview, Jacob Wayne Bellington, the focus of the abuse allegations and Kelly Long’s fiancé, seemed barely able to contain his fury.
“To be honest with you, Michael has wasted more of my time than anyone else in my life,” Bellington told The Daily Beast. “The guy’s a piece of shit. I'm trying to piece my family back together, he’s completely ripped it apart. He’s jealous of me. He can’t handle the fact that I invest myself and my time in the kids’ lives. He’s a lazy sack of shit who can’t hold a job—supposedly he ‘empowers’ rocks, he finds rocks or ‘mystic sands’ that he’s got on his parents’ property where he lives.”
Bellington took shots at Long for still living with his parents—he and Chalmers apparently reside in an RV in their yard—and lamented the death threats he said he’s gotten over the past 10 months or so.
“He went to the depths, getting a child to say they were sexually molested,” said Bellington. “You can’t get any lower than that. And he’s obviously on the run with her now.”
Five percent of all child abductions are carried out by a family member, according to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children. Anyone with information about Sophie Long’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Missing Persons Clearinghouse at (512) 424-5074.