Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Missing 12-year-old girl found

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It wasn’t a fairy-tale ending but the tears shed by a Winnipeg mother on Thursday were those of joy, regardless.

Only minutes before a group of the mother’s family and friends were about to conduct a search of the West End for her missing 12-year-old daughter, who had been missing for more than a week, city police announced she had been located.

"We found her," said the visibly relieved mother when she arrived at a park where the search for her daughter had been ready to begin when news arrived that the girl had been discovered. "She’s not hurt. I’m just really happy she’s alive and well."

According to the mother, police found her daughter in a hotel room with a man known to authorities. He was arrested.

The names of people involved can’t be reported because the child remains in the care of Child and Family Services.

The mother said the daughter refused to look at her when the two were reunited Thursday morning.

"She’s in a shell right now," the mother said. "She’s not listening to anybody. But we’ll work on it. I’m just going to take whatever help I can get to enable her to feel like herself again.

"She’s lost a lot of weight," the mother added. "She was in the same clothes as when she left. She was probably refusing to come back (home) because she knows how much trouble she’s in."

The mother had launched a public search for her daughter.

The mother said she was compelled to take matters into her own hands because of what she called the lack of information from local police. She said while police called her every morning, they never told her where they were searching or who they might suspect was involved, if anyone.

"That’s what made it so hard for me, to sit at home and wait," the mother said. "That’s why I took those steps because I had no idea what they (police) were doing."

Still, the mother was grateful her daughter was recovered by the WPS Missing Persons Unit. She was also thankful for the friends and family members who were prepared to begin the search Thursday.

The mother said she was still emotional on Thursday because her daughter’s "not home yet."

"The toughest part was probably the ifs and the maybes," the mother added. "It was really hard to stay positive. I left my Facebook page up all night. I left my cellphone on. I even slept with my front door unlocked, so maybe she might try to sneak in."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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