(SALT LAKE CITY) — The frantic search for a missing 13-year-old girl in Utah came to a close overnight when police found the teenager at a local Walmart after she’d disappeared with no mobile phone, shoes or even a coat.
But what looks like a case of a teen runaway is being called suspicious by police.
Brooklyn Gittins’ family said the young girl went to bed Tuesday night wearing her pajamas. When they awoke, she was gone, and even her eyeglasses were left behind. She contacted her family late Thursday night.
Lt. Justin Hoyal of Salt Lake Unified Police told ABC News that she is safe at home now.
“We believe that she did leave her house on Tuesday evening, and somebody picked her up and harbored her for the last two and a half days. We’re going to investigate,” Hoyal said. “She’s 13 years old, and for someone to hold her is wrong. We’ll do everything to find the person and bring [that person] to justice.”
Gittins was unharmed and was still wearing her gray T-shirt and black pajama pants. She had no shoes or coat.
“Brooklyn called her grandmother about 11:30 p.m. and told her that she was at the Walmart in South Jordan,” Salt Lake police said. “Her grandmother then called Utah police department. We responded to the Walmart and located Brooklyn. The disappearance is suspicious and we are still investigating where she went and who she was with.”
Police say there were no signs of forced entry in her home outside Salt Lake City, and none of the straight-A student’s friends had heard from her after she vanished.
“There are elements of this case that are extremely concerning. We are hopeful that, however, that this is simply a runaway,” police said on Thursday.
Gittins has gone missing before. Her family says she ran away last summer, but soon returned
More than 500 volunteers, as well as dog teams, fanned out Thursday to search the area near Gittins’ home. However, authorities sent the volunteers home overnight, saying the storm that brought all the heavy snow was too dangerous.
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