Published20 hours ago
An Arizona girl who disappeared nearly four years ago has turned up at a police station in Montana.
Thousands of tips have come in to the FBI and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children since Alicia Navarro allegedly ran away in 2019.
On Tuesday, police in her hometown of Glendale, Arizona, said she had “showed up to a police department” some 40 miles (64km) from the US-Canada border.
“Miracles do exist,” her mother Jessica Nunez said in a post on Facebook.
When Alicia vanished from their home on 15 September 2019, the then-14-year-old left behind a signed note that read: “I ran away. I will be back, I swear. I’m sorry.”
But her mother told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, that she believed her daughter had been lured away by somebody she met online.
“It’s not something that happened out of the blue,” she said, “and I do believe that she was lured thinking that she was going to have some kind of adventure, party or maybe love.”
The teenager had been diagnosed as high-functioning on the autism spectrum and was an avid video game player, she added.
According to Ms Nunez, her child was the first in Arizona to receive a silver alert, a rare emergency notification for missing persons with “specific cognitive or developmental disabilities” and seniors.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Glendale police spokesman Jose Santiago said Alicia, now 18, had walked into the Montana police station alone and identified herself.
She asked for help to clear her from the missing juvenile list but seemed safe, healthy and happy, he said.
Mr Santiago added that she appeared to have wilfully left home and was not in “any kind of trouble”.
It is unclear how Alicia got all the way to Montana, which is more than 1,200 miles (1,900km) away from her home, and the case remains under investigation.
Ms Nunez announced her daughter’s safe return in a video on the Finding Alicia Facebook page, but said she had no details.
“I want to give glory to God for answering prayers and for this miracle,” she said.
“For everyone who has missing loved ones, I want you to use this case as an example. Miracles do exist. Never lose hope and always fight.”
Lieutenant Scott Waite told reporters mother and daughter had an “emotionally overwhelming” reunion, in which Alicia was “very apologetic as to what she has put her mother through”.