Highland County 18-year-old found; ‘left to start new life’ sheriff says

Highland County 18-year-old found; ‘left to start new life’ sheriff says
Updated: May. 23, 2020 at 10:12 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Highland County teen missing since May 17 has been found safe, the Highland County sheriff confirms.

Sheriff Donald Barrera says that they are glad that Madison “Maddie” Bell is safe and unharmed.

The sheriff says Bell did not turn herself in but was located by law enforcement.

Barerra says the 18-year-old was not found locally.

Bell is not considered a runaway because she is not a minor, Barrera says, but she did leave of her own free will.

Sheriff Barerra says she “left to start a new life."

Bell was with “the person of interest” but Barerra was not able to confirm if that person was the man police released a photo of on Thursday.

Related | Legal expert weighs in on disappearance, search for Madison Bell

The sheriff says he spoke with the Highland County Prosecutor and nothing can be done regarding the number of resources used to look for the 18-year-old because she is an adult who left of her own free will.

Her family released this statement upon learning that she was found safe:

“We ask that the public and media respect our privacy during this difficult time while we are emotionally raw. We are just relieved to know Maddie is alive and not in physical danger. Thank you to every single person who looked for Maddie including Rescue 101 Search and Rescue, Texas EquuSearch, the amazing members of our local community, and volunteers that came from other areas to search for our daughter. Thank you to everyone who donated on Maddie’s behalf to assure we had reward money to offer for her safe return. Thank you to the law enforcement agencies and members for their hard work over the past six days, and for leaving no rock unturned. Thanks to friends and family who have supported us during the most difficult time of our lives. Every single effort to find Maddie has touched us and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.”

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