In 2008, Liam Neeson starred in the raw-boned, fast-paced action thriller, Taken, which featured the looming Irish actor playing a former CIA field agent who must use his particular set of skills to locate and save his own daughter, who had been abducted by an Eastern European sex-trafficking ring. The film was a big hit, spawning a series of sequels and a whole new subgenre of action films — “an American father must do whatever he can to save his daughter from the dangers of modern life.”
That such a trope has become so popular should surprise no one. It’s eminently relatable to see a celluloid father like Neeson act out the common revenge fantasy of kicking in doors, smashing heads, stealing cars and doing absolutely whatever needs to be done to rescue a loved one. Even men who aren’t fathers can understand the primal need to shoot every motherfucker that stands between him and his child. The same goes for mothers and sisters. It’s a fantasy for all humans to right the wrongs done to our loved ones via the use of righteous violence.
Of course, in reality, violence is never that clear-cut. Case in point: The 60-year-old father in Spokane, Washington, who learned that his daughter had been allegedly handed over to a Seattle-based sex-trafficking ring by her 19-year-old boyfriend — after which, he decided to go full-on Taken.
The father in question is named John Eisenman, and last October, he heard his underage daughter had been sold for $1,000 by her boyfriend, Andrew Sorenson. Eisenman immediately traveled west from Spokane to Seattle, and he somehow managed to locate his daughter. A few weeks later, he got word that Sorenson was in a Spokane suburb called Airway Heights. Eisenman hunted down and confronted Sorenson. He then beat him in the head with a cinder block, zip-tied his wrists and ankles and stuffed him in the trunk of a 1991 Honda Accord. At some point, Eisenman stabbed Sorenson multiple times as well. Then, he drove the Honda deep into the rural backroads and abandoned it in the wilderness.
The Honda remained there for a full year until someone seemingly found it, got it running and drove it back to Spokane. On October 22, 2021, Spokane Police received a call about an “abandoned vehicle with a foul odor emanating from it.” Some locals had removed anything of value from it, but most people stayed away because of the overpowering odor.
When the cops arrived on the scene, they were told that it probably contained a dead body. A quick visual inspection revealed that the interior was covered in mold, which suggested the car wasn’t originally left on the street. The officers pulled the vehicle’s serial number and located the name of the registered owner: Brenda Kross. They called her with the intention of informing her that her car had been found, possibly with a dead body in the trunk.
But Kross didn’t answer. And so, the officers pried open the trunk and were met with the sickly smell of death and the sight of Andrew Sorenson’s year-old decomposing corpse. His ankles and wrists were bound by zip ties. There was duct tape covering his mouth. And there was clear evidence he’d been stabbed multiple times.
The police called Kross again. Once again, she didn’t answer. This time, the officers drove over to her house. Her boyfriend, John Eisenman, answered the door and told the cops Kross’ car had been stolen about a year earlier. His story made sense to them, so they told Eisenman to have Kross contact them.
A few days passed before she did finally reach out. She confessed that Eisenman’s underage daughter had been abducted and sold to a sex-trafficking ring. The dead man in the trunk was the boyfriend who’d arranged the transaction.
The Spokane Police quickly arrested Eisenman on charges of first degree murder, and he is now currently in jail, awaiting trial. He has yet to speak to the press, but Kross told one local news outlet that what Eisenman did “was something that a lot of men say they would do for their daughter.” “John is a very selfless father, very giving, loving, loyal,” she explained. “He is the best father I could have ever had for my children. I’m very proud of John. I’m blessed to have had him in my life, and I want him back home.”
As you might expect, Eisenman has become a cause celebre for those who espouse a more martial worldview. “I’m in awe of the support everybody has given us — all the shares, the prayers, donations. We are so grateful, and I have hope again. Free Eisenman. Free John.”
Sorenson’s family obviously doesn’t see things the same way. “Andrew came into our home as a foster child,” the family who took in Sorenson as an infant told the local NBC affiliate via statement. “He was just six months old. He was born with cerebral palsy, autism and diagnosed developmentally delayed. Our family has been especially compassionate and loving toward him for these reasons. He was extra special to us all. … We spent a year searching for him and hoping he would return. Claims by his confessed killer have been very hurtful and only added to our family’s grief.”
The Spokane PD agrees, making it clear that the allegations of sex trafficking were only ever put forward by Eisenman, and that they never investigated Sorenson for such crimes. “We can’t corroborate the veracity of any of those statements,” they’ve publicly stated.
Again, none of that has stopped Eisenman’s vigilante act from being laundered online — at least until more details come out — and hailed as a form of righteous violence, the understandable rage of a father protecting his baby girl. But that sort of reasoning isn’t a celebration of freedom as much as it is an indictment. Only in the movies should we forsake human rights for the more immediate satisfaction and clear-eyed simplicity of Liam Neeson getting revenge.
Off-screen, it’s murder.