Breaking update as of Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, 3:30 p.m.: The mother of a New Jersey teen who disappeared and was later found safe in New York City was arrested Friday, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Editor’s note: Though the teen’s name was widely publicized during the search for her, PIX11 News is not identifying her now that she’s been found and is considered the victim of an alleged crime.
Breaking update as of Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 at 10 p.m.: The teen was found in New York City, officials said.
Original story –
EAST ORANGE, NJ — A New Jersey man who claims he’s the father of a missing 14-year-old posted on Facebook Thursday that he tried to help her find a missing debit card before the girl’s mother sent her out again to search for it.
“I appreciate the media reporting my daughter missing but they got it twisted,” Omar Muze wrote on Facebook. “I am not a family friend and I am not the older man, I am her father.”
When PIX11 News reached the girl’s mother, Jamie, she denied Muze is the biological dad but said he’s been a “father figure” to the teen.
“He is not her biological father, but he has been there for the role,” she said.
The dispute over the girl’s paternity added a new twist to a mystery that’s grown more puzzling since the girl vanished on Oct. 14 in East Orange.
Jamie Moore had initially described Muze as a close family friend during her first interview with PIX11 News about the missing girl on Oct. 27. She later said she had dated him a long time ago.
Jamie Moore said Muze let her, the missing girl, and her small son stay at the house on Amherst Street after a domestic violence incident in Irvington last year involving the little boy’s biological father, who’s an East Orange cop.
After PIX11 News secured surveillance footage that showed the 14-year-old in a deli on the morning of Oct. 14, the day she disappeared, Muze apparently felt compelled to clear up the events that happened before the girl vanished. Muze made reference to the man in the deli that paid for the teen’s juice drinks, shortly after 8 a.m. on Oct. 14.
“The guy that paid for my daughter’s groceries was not the last person that saw her,” Muze said. “I ran into her on Central Avenue looking for the card and walked her back home, told her mother we could not find the card, her mother sent her back out there to look again and that’s the last time we saw her.”
He said he wanted the media to get the story right.
PIX11 News photographer Bill Muller had met Muze this past Tuesday, when FBI agents and East Orange police returned to the house to question him about the girl’s disappearance. Muze was returning home, after working an overnight shift.
When we texted Muze Thursday about his Facebook statement, the father responded, “”Let’s just find my daughter. I am not the [family’s] friend and I am not the older man. They live with [me]. I am her father her dad the only one she have and the only one she would ever have. Thank you and have a nice day.”
Muze later called reporter Mary Murphy on the phone to discuss the child’s disappearance.
“I got people out there in different states looking for her,” Muze told PIX11 News. “I got everybody praying.”
Muze told us he met the missing girl on Oct. 14 when she was walking home from the deli on Central Avenue with the groceries in her bag, telling him she’d lost her mother’s EBT card. He said he tried to help her find the card, but they were unsuccessful and returned home to the apartment on Amherst Street where they all lived.
“Then Jamie sent her back out there,” Muze told PIX11 News. “She was upset. She told (the missing girl), ‘go find my f—ing card.’ She took the phone [from the missing girl] and I told her ‘You shouldn’t do that.'”
The 14-year-old girl hasn’t been seen since, although a salon owner said the teen looked very sad that morning as she passed the shop on Central Avenue.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has taken the lead role in the teen’s disappearance and told reporters Wednesday they’ve seen multiple videos of (the missing girl) in the area on Oct. 14 and also leaving the area “and it didn’t look like she was being followed.”
Muze also told PIX11 News he wasn’t upset when Jamie Moore became involved with an East Orange police officer, who’s the father of her 3-year-old son. He said the cop, Jamie Moore, and the two children even lived with him on Amherst Street for a period in 2018, after the officer’s home in Roselle had a fire.
The cop is facing a 2020 assault charge involving the girl and her mother.
“I don’t believe that man has anything to do with this,” Muze said, referring to the teen’s disappearance.
Muze said the girl was reported missing about 6:30 pm on Thursday, Oct. 14, and recalled he was taking a nap.
“When I woke up, I had a houseful of police,” Muze remembered.
Muze said he was not asked by the FBI to take a polygraph test, although Jamie Moore, the teen’s mother, was.
Muze continued to insist he’s the biological father of the child.
“I’m her dad,” Muze said.
He said he was there when she was born.
“That’s my baby. She’s the last one I have,” he said. “I have four daughters. She’s number four.”
Jamie Moore said she did not list the father’s name on the girl’s birth certificate.
“Omar and me are not in a relationship,” she said. “I didn’t tell you anything that was false.”
Moore also said she did not report her daughter as a runaway, something the Essex County Prosecutor reported Wednesday.