KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- FOX 4 Problem Solvers got an exclusive interview with a wedding photographer who disappeared from Missouri two months ago, taking the photos of many brides with her.
At first photographer Samantha Woosley Crowell didn't want to talk, speeding away in her mini-van when a television crew approached her at the home she had moved to in Mississippi, since mysteriously disappearing from Missouri.
But after a few minutes of waiting, Woosley Crowell pulled back into her driveway and launched into a lengthy explanation as to why she suddenly abandoned her photography studio in Cameron, Mo., leaving clients with no forwarding address or way of contacting her.
"This was never about skipping out," she said. "This was never about taking the money and running. This is just a really bad situation that has continued to spiral out of control."
Woosley Crowell said she left to protect her family from a sexual predator, although she acknowledged she's never filed a formal request for police assistance in the small town where she's now living.
"I've talked to a few people on the police force," she said. "But I haven't made an official report."
As to her her many upset clients, some of whom tell the FOX 4 Problem Solvers they've been waiting for their photos for a year, Woosley Crowell insisted their claims are hog wash.
"There were blatant lies," she said.
She even claims the 12 brides who contacted FOX 4 distraught over missing wedding photos aren't even owed their photos yet.
"I have an allotted amount of time still for them to be edited and done," she said.
But the brides told FOX 4 the contract due date has long passed, and some have been waiting since June. One couple was married in March. Other brides, including Tabetha Moss, just want a refund since no one even showed up at their weddings.
Woolsey Crowell, however, said none of the problems are her fault. She blamed everything on a photographer she subcontracted with who she said she placed in charge before leaving the state.
Janet Daniel, one of several freelance photographers who worked for Woolsey Crowell, laughed at that excuse and said Woolsey Crowell is lying.
"I want people to know that her photographers are not the ones that did this," Daniel said. "You know Samantha is responsible. The buck stops there."
In fact, Daniel said almost every photographer who had worked for Woolsey Crowell hasn't been paid for the last several weddings they shot. That's something Woolsey Crowell denied. She also claims she has been in touch with every bride trying to help them get their photos.
But several brides told us they haven't heard from Woolsey Crowell.
"She actually blocked my husband's cell phone number," said bride Toni Gardner, whose photos were due in September.
Here's the good news, after the FOX 4 Problem Solvers got involved in this story, two of the freelance photographers who Woolsey Crowell hired to shoot the wedding, but were never paid, dug into their archives and mailed Gardner every photo she was missing.The photographers told FOX 4 that when they realized Woolsey Crowell wasn't going to help Gardner, they had no choice but to solve the problem.
As she scanned through the dozens of photos she's received of her wedding, Gardner said she was forever grateful to the freelance photographers who showed such dignity and humanity to correct a problem they hadn't created.
The FOX 4 Problem Solvers are happy to report that other brides have also now received their photos from other freelance photographers and from Woolsey Crowell herself. But Problem Solvers won't consider this a problem solved until Woolsey Crowell delivers every photo, pays the photographers she owes money to and refunds the money to the brides whose weddings she never showed up for.