Two Florida girls, ages 12 and 14, have been confirmed to be safe after being reported missing when they stole a car and drove hundreds of miles in an alleged effort to meet up with someone they had connected with online.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office issued a Missing Child Alert on April 6, stating that the 12-year-old and 14-year-old had last been seen in Lake Butler and “may be traveling” in a black Ford Taurus owned by the 14-year-old’s father. At the time, the alert made clear, they were not accompanied by an adult. Furthermore, foul play was not suspected in the case.
The department later announced the cancelation of the Missing Child Alert, confirming that both girls had been found in the Bayou La Batre area of Alabama. Bayou La Batre is more than 400 miles from Lake Butler.
Per a report from NBC News, Union County Chief Deputy Lyn Williams said they had received information suggesting both girls had embarked on the trip to “meet someone they met online,” although the age or other identifying info of that individual had not been confirmed at the time of this writing. The report adds that the 12-year-old is the one who took her father’s Taurus, at which point she picked up her 14-year-old friend before starting the lengthy journey.
Due to unspecified “suspicious circumstances” surrounding the case, it is now reported to be in the hands of federal officials.
Complex has reached out to the Union County Sheriff’s Office for comment. This story may be updated.