A teen girl who was reported missing by her foster family more than a year ago has finally been located, and authorities say they found her hiding in the closet of a nearby Michigan home.
The 14-year-old was found by a U.S. Marshals fugitive team Tuesday in a Port Huron home, approximately 100 kilometres northeast of Detroit.
Child Protective Services took her to the hospital, where she was discovered to be about four or five months pregnant.
“She was crying,” Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Watson told the Detroit Free Press. “She didn’t know where she was going to go. She was pretty terrified. And she was afraid of losing her baby.”
Watson told the Free Press he was contacted on Tuesday by state police, who asked for his team’s help in locating the girl, who’d been missing since September of 2021. Tips led them to a local home that evening, but Watson said the occupants were initially uncooperative.
“The occupants refused us entry, wouldn’t talk to us or give us any information,” he told The Detroit News. “We ended up having to serve a search warrant to get inside.”
Once inside, authorities found the girl hiding in a hallway closet behind some clothes. The four adults in the house all acted surprised to see her, Watson told the Free Press.
Watson says it’s not immediately clear how the girl wound up at the house, but he did note that they are pursuing parental kidnapping charges against the teen’s biological mother. Authorities, he said, believe that the mother found her daughter after she ran away from the foster home and began moving the girl around from house to house.
The missing teen told law enforcement she had been at the house one night and had previously been bouncing around between Port Huron and Detroit, reports Local 4 News. After she was examined in hospital, she was reunited with her biological dad.
“She was ecstatic about that,” Watson told the Free Press. “She was afraid that if she was found, she would go back in the system…. She was just, ‘I wanna be with my dad. I wanna be with my dad.'”
More than 50,000 Canadian children and youth are reported missing to police each year, according to data from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, and the majority are runaways who leave home for a short period of time.
The organization says children involved with the child welfare system are at a greater risk of running away and account for many of the children reported missing to police each year.