Missing 14-year-old Snohomish girl found alive

Missing 14-year-old Snohomish girl found alive
Surveillance photo shows a missing 14-year-old girl as she entered a Grocery Outlet store in Lynnwood on Aug. 7, 2014.
A developmentally disabled Snohomish teenager who went missing Wednesday has been found alive in Lynnwood, the Snohomish County Sheriff reports.

The teen was found at the Grocery Outlet store in the 19800 block of 44th Ave West. A clerk, who learned the teen was missing after reading the story on social media, recognized the teenager when she walked into the store on Thursday morning. The clerk then alerted the owner.

"It was actually kind of scary. You think ‘Woah, why my store? Why us? Why is it here? Is there a reason behind that,' " said Larry Brown who is the owner of the Lynnwood Grocery Outlet. "(I'm) really grateful it was us because it could have been somebody else that just hadn't watched the news that day."

Brown approached the teen inside the store to see if she was the missing person.

"When I approached her I asked her I said ‘Are you OK? Everything going OK?' She said ‘Yeah, I’m fine.' She had that sweet little girl voice," said Brown.

Brown then asked the teen her name. Once she responded and the name matched with the missing person Brown told another employee to call 911.

"She said ‘Why do you want to call 911?’ I said ‘No reason. We just want to make sure everything is OK,’ said Brown. "At that point she says ‘I’m not missing’ – I’m waiting for my grandfather.'"

A family friend said an older man befriended the teen at McDonald's on Wednesday - he bought her a drink and cookies. He then told her he was taking her to Hawaii and that she needed to go home, pack clothes, and leave a note for her Mom. The family friend said the note read "See you later, Mom" and included the date.

The teen boarded a bus with her bike and the man then went to a home of the suspect's friend, according to a friend of the teen's family.

The man was later taken into custody by Lynnwood police for an outstanding trespassing warrant, said Shari Ireton of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said the teen did not appear to be hurt but was taken to a local hospital for an evaluation.

The teen was reported missing Wednesday after she left home for a bike ride and didn't return. Family members searched for the girl for hours and then called police to report her missing, triggering a search effort that began Wednesday night and continued Thursday.

Deputies say the girl has a developmental disability and has the mental capacity of a younger child.

A special unit will investigate how the teen ended up in Lynnwood and how she ended up in the company of a 60-year-old man, Ireton said.

She also said that authorities were grateful for input from the public during the search.

"We would like to extend thanks to the public for the hundreds of phone calls that came in ... providing a lot of valuable tips about where (the girl) might have been for the past few hours," Ireton said.