Brighton Police: Girl, 14, found safe in the Bronx; Was messaging with person before she went missing

Police looking for person who lured 14-year-old girl

Police looking for person who lured 14-year-old girl

BRIGHTON, N.Y. — Police from Brighton to New York City are trying to find the person who used text messages to lure a 14-year-old out of her home and into a car.

Ten hours after she was reported missing to Brighton Police, the girl was found safe in an apartment in the Bronx, alone. According to investigators, she was messaging with a person through a chat app and texts before she went missing.

The girl was reported missing at 3:45 a.m. Monday. She was found in the Bronx at 9:30 p.m. Monday.

“These are the cases that scare you in law enforcement,” said Major Miklos S. Szoczei from New York State Police Troop E.

When Brighton Police alerted us about the missing girl, they said she had developmental disabilities. (We are now obscuring the girl’s face on broadcasts because of her age and because she may be the victim of a crime.)

Brighton Police Chief David Catholdi spoke at a news conference on Tuesday morning about how law enforcement found the girl. Brighton Police, New York State Police, and NYPD were all involved in the search. No charges have been filed yet.

The first thing police did was search her neighborhood with dogs. Then they talked to her friends at school, and then they started to find some information and evidence on her phone.

“We are able to track a phone that we believe she had been in communication with,” Catholdi said.

With the help of the State Police and the NYPD, police traced the phone to an apartment in the Bronx.

“We came up with an individual who may have an association with that phone, and then the NYPD went to that apartment in the Bronx and were able to locate Zoe and she was alone in the apartment,” Catholdi said.

He added: “Who was in possession of that cell phone? We still have to work through all those details.”

The girl was taken to the hospital, released, and was on her way home to Brighton on Tuesday. Catholdi said the investigation is still in its early stages. Police are working to secure several search warrants through social media.

“We are still in the very early stages of this investigation to determine exactly what happened but nothing has been ruled out,” Catholdi said.

Daniele Lyman-Torres, who runs the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, said children you face “layered vulnerabilities” are at higher risk — “but all children and youth are at risk,” she said.

She told parents to use parental controls, check phones and tablets, and tell children what they should not share online.

“Like their address, their full name, who they live with. All of this information can be used to groom children,” Lyman-Torres said.

Police considered issuing an Amber Alert multiple times, but they case did not meet all the requirements — and then they found her.