A Florida teenager who was reported missing Sunday was found safe about 1,000 miles away in New York with a 27-year-old soccer coach, who was taken into custody, according to the Columbia County, Florida Sheriff’s Office.
The search for Caitlyn Frisina, a 17-year-old from Fort White, began Sunday morning, when her parents discovered she was missing from their home. Frisina had done a factory reset on her cell phone and left it behind, and footprints leading away from her home indicated she was alone when she left, deputies have said.
Investigators “confirmed” that the high school senior was with her school’s boys’ soccer coach, Rian Rodriguez, 27, the sheriff’s office said this week.
Caitlyn withdrew $200 on Sunday from an ATM in St. Mary’s, Georgia, said deputies, who said they believed she and Rodriguez were headed northeast in his red Mercury Sable. They were spotted on surveillance video at a food store in South Carolina and at a pawn shop in North Carolina, deputies said.
Caitlyn’s mother, Scarlet Parnell Frisina, had pleaded with her daughter to call her family.
“We love you, and we miss you, and we need to know that you’re safe,” the mother said during a Thursday news conference. “Please call us.”
Then, around 4 p.m. Friday, a New York State Police officer spotted the red Mercury Sable vehicle in Syracuse, New York, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said via its Facebook page. The officer stopped the car and found Rodriguez and Frisina safe.
Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident, and Frisina was detained, the sheriff’s office said. Her parents were notified.
“That was one of the best phone calls that I’ve made in my career,” Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter said. “The family was elated, of course. They’ve been through a lot. They’re emotionally drained.”
Rodriguez faces charges for interference with child custody and may face additional charges, Hunter said.