Breaking update as of Friday, Dec. 3:
A missing 15-year-old returned home after seeing a PIX11 News report Thursday in which her mother expressed concern for her safety and fears she may be have been under influence of an older man.
The teen, who PIX11 News is no longer identifying, spoke to reporter Mary Murphy on the phone.
“My friend came and showed me the clips from your show,” she said.
When asked why she had run away, the teen replied she’d been having trouble communicating with her mother “and I just needed a break.”
Dawn Rowe, director of the non-profit organization “Girl Vow” had visited the mother’s home Friday to offer assistance and was stunned to see the teen had returned to the house.
She is now offering services to the teen to assist her through any difficulties she’s having.
THE BRONX, N.Y. — Autman Pearson’s daughter was attending St. Raymond’s Academy for Girls, a Catholic school in Castle Hill Avenue where students wear uniforms and a Catholic nun watches over them at dismissal.
But the discipline and academics at school were not enough to keep her in line, Pearson said.
According to Pearson, the teen began staying out late soon after her sophomore year started in September. She turned 15 years old in October and disappeared for a few days later that month, Pearson said.
Later, in November, the girl left home again, taking only her cellphone.
“She hasn’t called me for Thanksgiving or anything,” Pearson said. “Our tradition is we usually have dinner and then we put up the tree.”
But Pearson told PIX11 News she has no Christmas spirit following her daughter’s disappearance two weeks ago. Pearson and her partner, Shawn Stevenson, are concerned the teen is under the influence of an older man.
“We need to find out the house that she’s in, ” Stevenson said, “because I don’t understand how you’d keep a child that long in your house.”
“This is a nightmare,” she added.
Stevenson said she’s been living with the girl’s mother for the last five years, and considers the teen her daughter.
“Everything was fine until this year’s semester,” she said.
Pearson said the girl, her youngest child, was born in Wisconsin. In 2012, she brought the girl to New York City.
The two moms said the girl liked to take dance class and play basketball, adding that her behavior changes in recent months were upsetting.
Pearson said she was worried police wouldn’t pay attention to her daughter’s case because she had run away before. She said she’s concerned that the girl’s older boyfriend may be well aware of her daughter’s vulnerabilities.
“I think he knows the runaway system,” Pearson said, “that the New York City police department writes it off.”
Dawn Rowe, director of the non-profit organization Girl Vow, is calling for a national task force to be created that would track teen runaways.
“Why haven’t girls of color who’ve gone missing ever been newsworthy?” Rowe asked at a City Hall vigil in early November. “What about us?”
Stevenson said police and social service agencies need to be more vigilant when a minor runs away.
“The system allows them to write them off as runaways,” Stevenson said, “when someone could have your child.”
Editorial note: The formerly missing teen’s name and likeness has been removed from this report since she was found safe and is a minor.