MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/WMTV) In a tweet shared Friday morning, the FBI Office in Milwaukee thanked the Dane County Sheriff's Office and the Madison Police Department for helping to locate a missing teenager from Tennessee. In the tweet, the FBI says the 14-year-old girl was found in Madison around 8 p.m. Thursday night-- nearly three weeks after she was reported missing.
Madison Police, along with the Dane County Sheriff's Office, confirmed with NBC15 News that they assisted the FBI in locating the teenage girl.
"The longer a case goes, often times, statistics have shown that there has not been a positive outcome. And, as much as Wisconsin celebrated Jayme Closs, we’re celebrating this case, as well," said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.
According to deputies, she left home on her own free will Jan. 13 because of what investigators called a family situation.
"As more information comes out, I think that, as a community, as a state, we’ll celebrate the fact that again we have a save and we’ll be able to reunite this young girl with her family in Tennessee, which is really our goal and to make sure she’s safe and she feels safe and she’ll get the resources she needs…. and we’ll get her home safe. That’s our number one priority," Mahoney said.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Tennessee said her adoptive father was charged with rape on Thursday, the same day the teenage girl was found safe.
The girl was still in Wisconsin as of Thursday night. Authorities did not know how she got there and didn't reveal what her relationship was to the homeowner. It's also unclear how she traveled to Madison.
In earlier interviews with WMTV's sister-station in Knoxville, WVLT News, the girl's parents said the teen was last seen Jan. 13 at 11 p.m. at her Madisonville home. Officials said her mother went into her room on the morning of Jan. 14 at 4:30 a.m. to find the teen was gone. Investigators said the teen's bedroom window was open and other clothing was missing.
During an interview with WVLT News, the girl's mother sent a message to her daughter: "You are my sunshine, and will always be my sunshine. No matter what, I love you. Please come home."
"She's in good health. She's safe, she's warm," said Monroe County, Tennessee Sheriff Tommy Jones.
The announcement of her safety came hours after the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said an arrest was made in connection to the case. At that time, MCSO deputies did not share details about who was arrested, why, or where.
Then, a short time later, investigators announced her adoptive father was in custody.
Authorities said they were investigating the possibility of other charges, but wouldn't say what type or who those charges would be filed against.
Now that she’s been found safe, NBC15 is not naming the 14-year-old because she is a crime victim and a minor.