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 mother’s last name to protect the identity of her daughter.
FOREST HILLS, Queens (PIX11) — A Queens mother weak from cancer treatments said she won’t let her illness curtail the search for her missing 14-year-old daughter.
“That’s not going to stop me,” Alana, the teen’s mother, said in her first interview with PIX11 News. “I’ll be out here.”
Last October, Alana had surgery for breast cancer and she’d already begun a treatment regimen when her daughter disappeared on Oct. 13. The teen had left home twice before, with the mother noticing changes in the girl’s behavior after she started using a popular basketball gaming app.
“She ran into the wrong people on certain kids’ games,” the mother said.
The teen’s aunt blamed the pandemic and excessive time online for the teen’s situation.
“With everybody being remote learning and online, she started meeting people online,” the aunt said.
PIX11 News first profiled the 14-year-old girl’s case in December when her father told us he was searching for his daughter so much that he was sleeping in his car.
“I’ve been raising my daughter since day one,” he said at the time. “I don’t need nobody else in the streets raising my daughter.”
When the teen disappeared the first time last summer, she was using one of her mother’s phones. The mom was able to track the teen to New Lots Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Then, the parents said the teen left home a second time in September before the father said he found her on the corner of 47th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.
The 14-year-old has been gone now since Oct. 13 in this longest, third disappearance. Her mother told PIX11 News it seems like someone has disabled her daughter’s Instagram account.
“As soon as I got on her Instagram, whoever it is, started erasing her numbers,” the mom said.
“There were a lot of grown men, trying to meet up with her, talk to her.”
A family member of the father later flew to New York from Charlotte, North Carolina to highlight the missing teen’s case outside a mini-mart she used to frequent on 108th Street in Forest Hills.
“I took off from work and I flew from Charlotte, North Carolina, because there are so many children of color missing in this area and all around the United States,” the cousin said.
The family member drove to 108th Street with her cousin from New Jersey.
“Girls are very vulnerable,” the family member observed to PIX11 News. “A lot of times they don’t have people to look up to, they want someone they think cares for them, and they care about them in the wrong way.”
The teen’s mother said there have been sightings of her daughter in Manhattan since October but also in Brooklyn.
“There’s been a lot of sightings in Brooklyn with an older man that has her in a car or something,” Alana said.
Alana said she didn’t have a description of what kind of car the man was driving.
The father said he’s grown so frustrated with the lack of progress in his daughter’s case that he’s shown up several times at the FBI’s local New York headquarters in lower Manhattan. He said the agents told him he needed to deal with the NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad.