MARSHALL, Mich.—Three days after she was last seen in her hometown of Marshall, a 14-year-old girl has been found in Georgia.
“I don’t know what makes somebody think it’s okay to do something with somebody that much younger than them,” said Amy Ellis, the mother of Hannah Amaro.
Heather was found with a man twice her age, whom she met online Tuesday night. While her family is relieved, they’re also putting out a message to other parents about the dangers of cyberspace.
“You need to have all their pass codes to their phones,” said Ellis. “You need to have access to their phones, and not let them have locks on their phones. You just have to monitor them. This incident shows you how close to home it is.”
Ellis said she is furious her daughter would even think about running away with a man twice her age, but she is just happy that she will see her daughter again.
“It was a nightmare, not knowing if she was safe, if she was being forced, it was just a nightmare,” she said.
Police said they were unsure what their chances of finding Amaro were, since two days had already passed before the parents reported she was missing. However, they managed to locate her at a motel with a 29-year-old man in the Atlanta area.
Police scoured Amaro’s online activity to find her whereabouts, and with the help of one of Hannah’s friends, police identified a man that goes by the name Vic. He drove all the way from Georgia to pick her up.
“My speculation is that she did get in the car willingly, but what transpired after that, we don’t know,” said James Schwartz of the Marshall Department of Public Safety.
Ellis says she wished she had monitored her daughter more closely.
Now extended family members like Hannah’s aunt, Mary Jane Marenko, who was by Amy’s side the whole time, has a new perspective on online activity.
“When I leave here, there is going to be some changes,” said Marenko. “You know, we give our kids freedom, but there are a lot of things we don’t know that they do. I don’t want to see this happen to my niece to anybody. It’s scary.”
The suspect will be facing criminal charges in Michigan and Georgia. One charge will be transporting a minor across interstate lines. Police say there are possible sexual misconduct charges. The suspect does have a criminal record of domestic abuse.