EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 6, 2013

Missing teen safe, in state custody

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie

---- — SALEM — Leandra Clarke, 16, missing from her home in California since late June, walked into Town Hall shortly after 9 a.m. yesterday.

By the end of the day, the teenager was in the custody of the state Division for Children, Youth and Families, according to Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten.

He said Leandra went into Town Hall, believing it was the police station. Police picked her up and brought her to police headquarters.

“The most important thing is, she has been located,” he said. “And she’s safe.”

The girl apparently saw her picture on the front page of The Eagle-Tribune and wanted to let authorities know she was OK.

Her grandmother, 59-year-old Kathleen Willett of Pelham, was in court Wednesday, arrested on a fugitive warrant out of Irvine, Calif., alleging felony child abduction.

Leandra apparently left home after an argument with her mother, Pelham police said. It wasn’t the first time she has run away, police said.

Pelham police said they believe Willett brought her granddaughter here in early July.

Leandra’s parents have been notified, Patten said, and it’s believed they will arrive in New Hampshire by week’s end. In the meantime, she is in DCYF’s custody.

Willett is being held on $40,000 cash bail and is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 3.