A teenage girl who walked into a police station after going missing for four years has been shown speaking to cops for the first time since reappearing.
Alicia Navarro, now 18, earlier this week turned up at a Montana police station 1,000 miles away from her home she ran away from on September 15, 2019. Days before her 15th birthday, Alicia had left her parents a handwritten note stating: ‘I ranaway. I will be back, I swear. I’m sorry.’
The teen appeared in a video call with cops from her hometown of Glendale, Arizona, with her hair pulled back and wearing a light-colored shirt.
‘Did anybody hurt you in any way?’ a cop can be heard asking Alicia, who appears on the screen of a cell phone in the edited video obtained by Fox 10.
‘No, nobody hurt me,’ says Alicia.
The cop says: ‘So you know, our goal is we just want to make sure that you’re safe.’
The teen says, ‘I don’t, I don’t’ and shakes her head, then continues, ‘I understand…’ but the rest is inaudible and cuts off.
In another clip, a cop is heard thanking Alicia for speaking with them.
‘Of course, thank you, thank you for offering help to me,’ the teen says.
The cop tells Alicia they will talk to her again soon, to which she says, ‘OK, goodbye.’
Alicia was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, which calls for taking medications on a regular basis. Patients can be overwhelmed by social interactions.
Her mother, Jessica Nunez, said she did not have information on her daughter’s disappearance but that ‘the most important thing is that she is alive’.
‘I want to give glory to God for answering prayers and for this miracle,’ Nunez wrote on Facebook.
‘For everyone who has missing loved ones, I want you to use this case as an example. Miracles do exist. Never lose hope and always fight.’
The investigation so far indicates that Alicia left home ‘willfully’, said Glendale police Lt Scott Waite.
Waite added that cops can ‘only imagine what she’s going through, mentally, emotionally’ along with her family, but ‘as much as we’d like to say this is the end, this is probably only the beginning of where this investigation will go’.
Glendale police spokesman Jose Santiago said that Alicia ‘is by all accounts safe, she is by all accounts healthy and she is by all accounts happy’.
She is not facing any criminal charges and does not require medical attention, but Waite said that ‘to us she is a victim, and we need to provide services to her’.
Many questions remain around why Alicia fled home. She told cops that it ‘started as a runaway situation’, ABC News reported.
Alicia lived with her mother and stepfather and had a few friends she hung out with, but found it easier to socialize online, according to Uncovered, the largest crowdsourcing cold cases database in the US. She often played Minecraft, Discord and other games on the Internet.
But in the months before she vanished, Alicia’s behavior changed dramatically from her typical routine. She became interested in fitness products like protein powders, makeup, body spray and more provocative clothing. She also took a liking toward classic rock and comic books. Alicia’s mother assumed that these were the effects of high school peer pressure.
Hours before Alicia fled, she and Nunez had her favorite meal at McDonald’s, had their eyebrows threaded together and went to a chocolate store. Alicia played games online late at night and told her mother she loved her while getting a glass of water around midnight.
Around 7am the next morning, Nunez found Alicia’s note, the back door open and chairs against the fence that she presumably used to hop the fence.
Alicia took her phone, laptop, some cosmetics, body spray and a comic book, but left her chargers, which made investigators believe she intended to return.
A friend of Alicia last saw her at La Pradera Park, about 1.5 miles from her home, four days after she ran away. Other witnesses said a girl who looked like Alicia was speaking with a black man with tattoos on his face, neck and hands.
The FBI and Center for Missing and Exploited Children worked on search efforts, but it eventually became a cold case.
Nunez and investigators believed that Alicia was groomed and lured by a predator she met online, possibly for human trafficking.
‘She was not intended to leave for this long,’ Nunez said at the time. ‘Something… something is preventing her to come back.’
Investigators hope to piece together what led Alicia to run away, in continued interactions with the teen.
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