SAN FERNANDO—A 14-year-old San Fernando girl who was believed to have disappeared while walking to a convenience store was located safe and sound in Santa Clarita amid extensive media coverage and a search by friends and relatives, authorities said late on Aug. 22.
Destiny Isabella Mercado told police she left home voluntarily with “some male subjects,” and that she threw her own cell phone out of the car to avoid being tracked, San Fernando police Lt. Irwin Rosenberg told City News Service.
Mercado attempted to contact her ex-boyfriend about 8 p.m. on Aug. 22, and his older sister convinced the teen to meet her, Rosenberg said. The sister was accompanied by an adult Mercado trusted, and police and sheriff’s deputies were there.
Mercado had texted her mother at 1:10 p.m. Aug. 21 asking permission to go from their home in the 1900 block of Chivers Street to the 7-Eleven store at Hubbard Street and Borden Avenue, Rosenberg said.
Her phone was found at 1:40 p.m. in the area of Hubbard Street and Glenoaks Boulevard by someone who claimed it was thrown from the right rear passenger seat of a moving vehicle described as a light gray or silver Mazda, Rosenberg said.
The circumstances surrounding the discovery of the phone raised suspicion about the disappearance, he said.
The extensive media attention focused on the search is believed to have made a difference.
“I think she’d still be outstanding if not for the publicity,” he said.