Sheriff: Amber Alert prompted by runaway acting alone

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A Wednesday morning Amber Alert was the result of a runaway teen who left home on her own accord, Kalamazoo County sheriff’s officials announced shortly after the teen was found.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to announce the latest developments and emphasize that the suspect initially named in connection with the Amber Alert had nothing to do with the girl’s disappearance.

Police said officers began investigating the disappearance of a 13-year-old Augusta girl around 10 p.m. Tuesday. It was initially reported that the girl was last seen in Galesburg. The investigation led Michigan State Police to issue an Amber Alert shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday after getting information that the child may be in harm’s way and with a 45-year-old man.

Shorty after 11 a.m., police found the girl less than a block away from her home and quickly learned that she was acting alone.

“We have a runaway who, as far as we can tell, has never met this person that we talked about earlier, has never been in contact with this person, and somehow that person’s information was brought to light last night somewhat erroneously,” Fuller said at a news conference.

The man initially named in connection with this case was featured in breaking news reports, had his image displayed on billboards and had his vehicle described in an Amber Alert blast sent to thousands of phones in the middle of the night.

“That’s why we’re here right now is to make it as clear as we can that there is no reason for anybody to be looking for this man,” Fuller said.

The 13-year-old made apparent efforts to make her disappearance appear as though it were a crime. Her mother received copies of Snapchat messages that the girl was sending to friends. One message encouraged a friend to call the police. Another message said she was being held in a basement:

“…i woke up and I have no clue where I am last night I left my friends so u could pick me up then this guy picked me up but I’m in a basement and he doesn’t know I have a iPod
HELP…
SHHH
HE SAID HE WOULD HURT ME IF I TOLD ANYONE
I don’t know where I am I feel sick vv sick and cold”

The girl’s mother told 24 Hour News 8 that she was relieved the girl was found but acknowledged that there are underlying problems that may need to be addressed with the child.

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