EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 11, 2013

Girl, 11, found in friend's home after overnight search

By Bill Kirk

---- — LAWRENCE — An 11-year-old girl was found at a friend’s house yesterday morning following an overnight search for her involving local, state and county law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old boy was also reported by his mother to be missing since Tuesday. But the woman told police she wasn’t too worried because he had been updating his Facebook page. He was found about 1:30 yesterday afternoon.

The girl, who lives on Springfield Street and is a fifth-grader at the Wetherbee School, was reported missing by her mother at 9:30 Tuesday night. She told police that her daughter left their home at around 5 p.m. after an argument.

Police began an investigation, and launched a search when the girl still failed to return home by midnight.

Police Chief John Romero said officers were concerned for the girl’s safety based on statements she had made to her mother and friends.

At 1 a.m., a command post was set up outside the girl’s house.

Police then divided the south side of the city into nine grids, concentrating on five potential hot spots, including the boat ramp, the South Lawrence East Middle School, South Common, the train station and all river banks.

With help from local, state police and sheriffs’ deputies, cruisers were assigned to each area of the grid. Those areas were then heavily patrolled throughout the night and into the early morning hours.

The command post was still up as of 7:30 this morning but was broken down and removed by around 8 a.m. after the girl returned home at about 7:45 a.m.

Police said the girl was at a friend’s on the same block just six houses away from her home, and may have been watching the search throughout the night.

She was taken to Lawrence General Hospital for an evaluation. The state Department of Children and Families was notified of the incident.

During the search, police spoke with several of the girl’s friends who reported seeing her in a large group of kids hanging out at Shawsheen Park, located behind the high school and South Lawrence East Middle School, near the Shawsheen River and I-495.

“You’ve got to err on the side of caution,” Romero said, referring to the massive search that included more than two-dozen officers. “We had to go all out to find her. We were concerned about her safety.”

Romero said the 11-year-old boy who was reported missing hadn’t been seen by his mother since Tuesday evening. She came into the station Wednesday around noon to report she hadn’t seen her son.

His school also reported him absent yesterday.

She told detectives that she wasn’t too worried because wherever he was he had been updating his Facebook page.

“The kid had a fight with his mother,” Romero said. “But he’s posting on Facebook so his mother’s not too worried.”

He said detectives were following several leads, including talking to the boy’s father, who lives separate from the mother.

“We are getting some ideas of where he might be,” Romero said yesterday afternoon. “No foul play is suspected.”

The boy was found and the search called off around 1:30 p.m.