A massive police search is under way in the US after the mother of a 15-year-old girl abducted from a shopping mall told cops she fears a young woman shown bound and prone next to a toilet in a bizarre YouTube video could be her daughter.
The one-minute clip, entitled "Hi Walter! I got a new gf today!", was uploaded to YouTube two months after Kayla Berg vanished from the Wisconsin shopping centre in August 2009 and was uploaded by a person with an account called "Hi Walter Its Patrick".
The video has been the subject of speculation by amateur sleuths for several years, with many commenting on the uncanny physical similarities between the girl in the video and Ms Berg.
Many believe the "Walter" that Patrick addresses in the disturbing one-minute clip could be local serial killer Walter E Ellis, aka the Milwaukee North Side Strangler, who was arrested just four days before Kayla vanished.
Police have confirmed they are hunting down 'Patrick' and have warned locals not to harass a local man who unfortunately shares similar features to him and who has been ruled as having anything to do with Kayla's disappearance.The video hade gone unnoticed by authorities for seven years but is notorious among social media sleuths and even has its own fan page. It went viral after being reposted yesterday after being repeatedly removed by YouTube and was subsequently brought to the attention of Kayla's mother Hope Sprenger, who said watching it gave her "chills".
They said the girl in the video "looked a lot like" Kayla but have so far been unable to establish its authenticity.
In the footage, a chubby man with a maniacal expression describes how he "met the most wonderful girl" at the mall.
"And then we got kind of tired of the mall and I brought her back to my place," he tells the camera. "I know she hates cameras, Walter, but I'm gonna show you her anyway. You ready?"
Patrick then walks over to a closed bathroom door. He opens it to show a distressed young woman tied up on the floor next to a toilet.
"Why are you doing this?" she screams.
Patrick then enters the bathroom and slams the door behind him. The viewer hears the girl cry out "No!" as the footage ends.
Police yesterday launched an investigation into the video after Kayla's mother declared the girl was wearing the same clothes Kayla was last seen in.
Mrs Sprenger told TV station WAOW Wisconsin 9 that the video could be her missing daughter.
"(It) sounded like her, looked like her, it gave me chills... Disturbing. It made me sick to my stomach," she said.
"The clothing could be a big possibility. We do believe she was wearing that type of shirt, we know she had jeans. I thought it looked a lot like her. I pray to God it's not."
Antigo police confirmed that the girl in the video did look like Ms Berg.
"We'll do whatever we can to find out who's in there and identify them," Police Chief Eric Roller said.
"Sometimes that's hard on the web because of wherever this stuff may originate from (but) we're going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of it."