Mother says daughter’s return after four years brings hope to all parents of missing children

‘Miracles do exist and never lose hope and always fight,’ Jessica Nuñez said in a video statement

Andrea Blanco
Thursday 27 July 2023 19:48 BST
Arizona teen who disappeared nearly 4 years ago found alive and well

The mother of an Arizona teenager who was missing for four years has spoken out following’s her daughter’s “miracle” return.

Alicia Navarro was 14 years old when she ran away from her home in Glendale, Arizona, on 15 September 2019. Since then, law enforcement has fruitlessly investigated thousands of tips as her mother, Jessica Nuñez, publicly pleaded for her safe return.

The Glendale Police Department announced on Wednesday evening that Alicia had recently walked inside a police station in a Montana town near the Canadian border, ending the four-year-long search for her. Authorities have refused to say where exactly the now 18-year-old was found, but have said she is “happy, healthy and safe” by all accounts.

Jessica Nuñez (Finding Alicia)

In a video statement shared on the Finding Alicia Facebook page, Ms Nuñez said she found out about the news just an hour before the developments were shared with the public and the media. Ms Nuñez then thanked God and the community for the support throughout the time that her daughter was missing.

“I, first of all, want to give glory to God for answering their prayers and for this miracle,” Ms Nuñez said. “For everyone who has missing loved ones, I want you to use this case as an example. Miracles do exist and never lose hope and always fight.”

Ms Nuñez added: “I do not know the details, I do confirm she is my daughter, she is alive and she is safe ... I don’t have details but the important thing is she is alive.”

Ms Nuñez used social media to spread awareness about her missing daughter. Just two days before Alicia was found, Ms Nuñez had posted on Facebook that “it only takes one person to speak up and make a difference.”

Glendale Police Department spokesperson Jose Santiago said detectives are confident the young woman who identified herself as the missing teen is indeed Alicia Navarro, following several interviews with her family.

Mr Santiago said Alicia showed up at a police station in Montana “by herself”. He said the town is about 1,000 miles away from Glendale but did not specify where exactly.

Lieutenant Scott Waite said Navarro’s return is “probably only the beginning of where this investigation goes” as police continue to investigate where Alicia has been during the last four years and if anyone was with her.

Authorities said on Wednesday that Alicia had walked into a police station in Montana (Glendale Police Deparment)

“From what she stated, this started as a runaway situation. But of course, there are more dynamics at play as we start to put together the puzzle,” Mr Waite said during a press briefing.

“We also have a message from Alicia herself, who is asking for privacy. This has been a traumatic situation for her, as you can imagine, but she is looking to be able to move on in her life, she’s looking to build a life for herself, and she’s asking for some privacy and patience as well,” Mr Santiago added.

In the video shared during the press conference, Alicia thanked the department for looking for her and said “no one” had hurt her.

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