Breaking update: The teen, who’d been missing for six months, turned up at a Staten Island police precinct on Friday, April 15, telling cops she’d escaped sex traffickers who had raped and drugged her, according to her mom and two law enforcement sources. For the latest on this story, click here.
PIX11 News has removed the teen’s name and image because she is a juvenile. PIX11 has removed the father’s last name to protect the identity of his daughter.
FOREST HILLS, Queens — Octavius said he’s spent thousands of dollars on gas since his 14-year-old daughter went missing on Oct. 13.
The concerned father has been driving his SUV through four of the five boroughs, even going out of state to New Jersey and Pennsylvania looking for the girl.
“I’ve been raising my daughter since day one,” the single dad told PIX11 News. “I don’t need anyone else in the streets raising my daughter.”
Octavius said his daughter had been doing well in school and going to church, but he started to worry this year about who she was meeting online while playing a popular basketball game.
“From social media, she must have met somebody,” he said. “And I told her about social media – ‘stay away from that.'”
Octavius said his daughter initially left her mother’s home in Queens while she was visiting there in late September, but he was able to track her down a week later and brought the teen back to her mother’s in Forest Hills.
The teen’s mom has been ill in recent months.
Octavius said while his daughter was visiting her mother on Oct. 13, the mom allowed her to go to the store. He said he was in a nearby room and decided to trail his daughter when she left. But the teen had already taken off to parts unknown.
“I must have searched 20 stores,” Octavius said of a nearby shopping strip on 108th Street. “I drove to the subway station and couldn’t find her.”
PIX11 was asked to profile the teen’s case by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Vice President John Bischoff said they were working hard to keep the teen’s case in the public view.
“Somebody has seen this little girl,” Bischoff added. “About 92% of our cases are listed as endangered runaways.”
Octavius is concerned that his daughter’s Instagram account was shut down. He’s tried to reach out to contacts he found in her phone after she left her mother’s home the first time. He thinks an online predator may have engaged in a familiar “internet” dance with the girl in recent months.
“Come with me, go home,” he theorized. “Come with me, go home. Next time you come with me, that’s it.”
Octavius said he fears that someone is holding his daughter against her will. He had raised the child with his extended family in Far Rockaway before moving upstate with the girl last year.
Octavius said he brought the girl back to Queens to visit her mother on Oct. 13. Now he’s spending most of the time in his vehicle, hoping to track down his daughter.
“I take naps in the car, I don’t leave that car,” Octavius said.
If you have any information on this case, contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)