Missing Persons vs. Runaways - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Missing Persons vs. Runaways

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The Franklin County Sheriff's Office has been handling a couple of runaway cases involving teenagers recently.

It's a topic that's difficult for both law enforcement and for the media when it comes to separating whether a child is in danger and missing or left home willingly.

Law enforcement works to return the child safely, without encouraging similar situations for people seeking attention.

"We're still going to put the same amount of resources to try and reunite that child with their parents," " Franklin County Sheriff's Office Captain Mark Torbert says. "However, it has to be understood that the child is gone because they want to be gone or not. We still go out, we still look for them and investigate them the same way, but it makes it a little more difficult."

Captain Mark Torbert from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office says every deputy has a list of criteria to decide whether the child willfully left home or was abducted.

Captain Torbert says there's fewer resources if a child ran away and they won't qualify for an Amber Alert to be issued.

He says locally, the sheriff's office does everything they can to reunite the child with their family.

A 13-year-old teen from Franklin County left home Sunday. David Hardy was found Wednesday morning walking along side the road.

However, 16-year-old Chelsea Jones has been gone for three weeks now..

Her grandparents says she's left once before, but only for a few days. They are now worried about she's ended up.

"There's no guarantee I'll ever see her again, I'm hoping for the best. You know I love her," Larry Akers, Chelsea’s grandpa says.

Whether they are missing or ran away, this family says the pain is the same.

Law enforcement says they always do their best to get these young people home.

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