A 12-year-old Chinese tourist has been found safe in New York a day after her tour group reported her missing from a Washington-area airport.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police said JinJing Ma was found on Aug. 3 in the custody of her parents in Queens, New York.
Authority Police Chief David Huchler said at a news conference on Aug. 3 that the girl excused herself to go to the bathroom on Aug. 2 after getting her passport at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
He said the girl met a woman, changed clothes, and got into an SUV with New York tags, sparking fears that she had been abducted.
So many questions about this story! Missing girl from China seen talking to woman in NYC, woman ‘happens’ to meet her at #DCA after girl gets her passport from tour chaperones? Car has NY plates. Police say she left willingly. #AmberAlert @VSPPIO @fox5dc https://t.co/JOzBF43fRQ pic.twitter.com/gZ0KjWgupj
— Melanie Alnwick (@fox5melanie) August 3, 2018
Alerts were put out by the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children and other groups.
Huchler said a couple had earlier approached JinJing Ma while her tour group was at the World Trade Center and that there appeared to be a link between that couple and the people she met at the airport.
“We are in the process of trying to determine the identity of these individuals but it does appear that they are connected to the incident here,” Huchler told reporters on Aug. 3, reported Fox News.
“It appears there was some familiarity, but I don’t know if it is a cordial exchange but that is something we are trying to verify at this time.”
Thank you for sharing her poster, without your help we wouldn't be able to bring you this fantastic news! pic.twitter.com/hxIfqSvB45
— NCMEC (@MissingKids) August 3, 2018
But the legal counselor for Ma’s parents, Anna Demichik, told CBS that Ma was not abducted and that Ma’s parents are the ones who picked her up at the airport.
The investigation into Ma’s disappearance is still ongoing despite her being found, Demichik said, noting that parents have been living in the United States for two years and that Ma has been living with relatives in China.
The girl is on a visa issued for a tour group trip, but will be staying in New York for the time being with her parents.
“We are grateful that JinJing is safe and with family,” Huchler told reporters after Ma was found. “Our goal was to locate her to ensure she was safe and unharmed, and we accomplished that goal.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.