Searches Intensify - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Searches Intensify

Authorities in Florida and California continued Thursday to search for two teenage girls who disappeared in separate incidents. In Florida, part of the investigation is focusing on the actions of a convicted sex offender.

Florida officials are questioning a convicted sex offender in connection with the disappearance of a missing 13-year-old girl. Investigators say they contacted nearly all the 24 registered sex offenders who live nearby and learned that one was a friend of the teen-ager's mother.

The 36-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night in connection with an unrelated incident. A sheriff's spokesman says the man has the "attention" of authorities, but declined to say more.

Sarah Michelle Lunde vanished from her family's mobile home over the weekend. Although she's run away from home in the past, authorities say she was never gone for so long. Among the hundreds who've joined the search is a man whose own daughter was kidnapped about a hundred miles to the north last month.

A registered sex offender has been charged with the death of nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford.

Search Continues in California

Across the country in California, authorities are looking for Ashleigh Markley, a 14-year-old who disappeared on March 29 as she was visiting her grandmother and other relatives in Lincoln, Calif. Lincoln police initially considered Ashleigh to be a runaway but the Citrus Heights Police Department, which took over the case last week, considers Markley missing and at risk.

Ashleigh lives in Citrus Heights, a community near Sacramento. Officials think Ashleigh may be with Lindsay Jones, 28, who the teenager met during an Easter event at her grandmother’s house.

Jones is also known as Lindsay Rehders. Police urged Jones to contact them and tell them what she knew of Ashleigh's whereabouts, stressing that if the teen was with her voluntarily she would face no charges.

Ashleigh's parents appealed for her safe return on FOX News on Thursday morning. "Tell her I love her and not to be afraid and come home. She needs to be with us, not with that lady," said her mother, Tammy Markley Barnes.

"I don't know what kind of situation she's in. I don't know if she's befriended her. I don't know anything." The girl's stepfather, Kevin Barnes, said they don't feel she ran away this time because Ashleigh hasn't called in. "We just want our daughter home. We miss her and love her," he said.

Ashleigh is 4-foot-11 inches and weighs 86 pounds, with blue eyes, blond hair and piercings in her tongue and navel.

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