A Utah high school student, 15-year-old Lily Grace Stephens, was found safe after going missing for about a week.
Jennie Brown, the teen’s mother, confirmed she was found on social media.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who contributed to her safe return,” Brown wrote in a comment on a KUTV Facebook post on Dec. 26. “The Herriman police went above and beyond and I am eternally grateful for everyone who reached out to my daughter and my family. Thank you.”
Lily, of Herriman, went missing last week when she visited a friend’s house, according to KJZZ.
Her mother alerted the police about the case after she found “a hand-written note in her bedroom threatening self-harm,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“This year has been extremely rough for all my children. But especially Lily. She’s at a very vulnerable age,” said Brown, ABC4 reported. She said her family has experienced a great deal of loss in the past year.
“My mom passed away suddenly in January. Her uncle, Gabriel drowned in March and her uncle, Clinton ended on Halloween this year. So she’s pretty broken, lost, and angry,” added Brown. “Her counselor said that Lily has seen more loss in the past year than most adults do in their entire life.”
Brown also said Lily has been bullied at school.
“It’s supposed to be the best years of her life and it’s the worst. It’s not fair that a 15-year-old is hurting so much and as a mom, I can’t put a band-aid on it,” said Brown, according to ABC4.
Police in Herriman were able to obtain a warrant and tracked down her location via social media. They found her after knocking on several doors, officials said, without elaborating, according to the ABC affiliate report.
Brown said Lily’s disappearance highlights teen mental health in the area. “It’s an issue that’s on the forefront of, I think, a lot of our minds. It makes us certainly concerned for her well-being at this point,” said Brown.
“The numbness is still there. I’m in fear of tomorrow and the days to come. I’m hopeful that now, I can get her some help and figure things out for her,” said Brown.
There were 464,324 missing children reported in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) in 2017, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Under federal law, when children are reported missing to law enforcement they must be entered into the database.
In 2016, there were 465,676 entries. “This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total,” the center noted.
In 2017, the center said it assisted officers and families with the cases of more than 27,000 missing children. In those cases, 91 percent were endangered runaways, and 5 percent were family abductions. About one in seven children reported missing to the center in 2017 was likely a victim of child sex trafficking, experts said.