FLORENCE, Ala. — A terrifying situation for a Florence family who searched for their daughter for days.
The 13-year-old victim was found in Texas with a man accused of kidnapping and assaulting her.
Friends of the victim say she disappeared from her Florence home after 3 a.m. Thursday.
Family and volunteers scoured the area looking for her on foot and online.
Police found the girl at the home of a 19-year-old Tyler, Texas, man on Saturday.
“She was OK, obviously a little traumatized from the whole ordeal, but physically she was fine,” said public information officer Andy Erbaugh with the Tyler Police Department.
Tyler police heard from the FBI, Saturday, that the teenage girl was at a home in Texas.
An arrest warrant was issued and the suspect was arrested and charged with a laundry list of offenses, including kidnapping and sexual assault.
Family friends of the victim say the 13-year-old had followed a link from an online game and the suspect was able to find her exact location in Florence.
The suspect reportedly drove from Tyler, Texas to Florence before the teen disappeared.
“In her eyes, she didn’t see evil in anybody,” said Danny McMurry, who’s like an uncle to the victim.
“She has such a big heart she didn’t think nobody was there to hurt her. She had no idea. She would have never thought in a million years, and because of this man, she will have trouble trusting people for the rest of her life.”
McMurry was among many searching Alabama and the depths of the web for the girl.
The victim was safely on her way back to Florence Monday, expected to be home by Monday night.
“For the rest of her life she will struggle with this all because she let her heart tell her that everybody was nice, everybody was loving,” McMurry said. “Unfortunately, she had to learn the hard way. She got to learn from it and she’s still alive. It’s a blessing all around.”
Lifelong family friend Kara Butler says Thursday’s alleged kidnapping is a wakeup call to all parents.
“You may wake up and see your kid happy and then you go to sleep at night and you wake up and find your kid gone,” Butler said. “That is very stressful, depressing, sad, fear… just keep a close watch on your children.”
The alleged kidnapping remains an active FBI investigation.
Florence police tell News 19 they will elaborate more in the coming days about a possible extradition.