Missing Michigan teen who was found in closet likely had help escaping foster care from her mother, officials say

A mother “helped facilitate” her 14-year-old daughter leave foster care when the girl went missing for a year, officials said.

The teen was found hiding and pregnant in Michigan this week, officials said Friday. A U.S. Marshals fugitive team discovered the teen, reported missing Sept. 3, 2021, in a closet about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in Port Huron, Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Watson said.

When the girl was placed in foster care in 2021, the mother’s custodial rights had just been terminated and the state was seeking to establish custody for the girl’s father when she went missing, Watson said.

“The mother helped facilitate her leaving the foster home,” before they “bounced around” homes in Detroit, Port Huron, Mt. Clemens and perhaps other nearby locales, Watson said.

When she was found this week, the girl was “noticeably pregnant” and taken to a hospital for evaluation, according to Watson.

The identity of the person who impregnated the girl is being sought. The age of consent in Michigan is 16.

 “They are investigating both of those issues, of parental kidnapping and also the potential criminal sexual conduct,” St. Clair County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Wendling said.

Anyone who knowingly helped the mother illegally keep her daughter could also be in legal jeopardy.

Tips from the public had deputies visiting several homes throughout 2022, where the missing girl was probably on the other side of doors, St. Clair Sheriff Mat King said.

“We checked on countless tips and leads and we, on several occasions, believed the juvenile was in a residence but we were denied access because we didn’t have enough information for a search warrant,” King said.

“Those subjects knew police were looking for a juvenile, and they didn’t inform us when we made contact. They knew that juvenile was in danger, and yes, they could be looking at charges.”

The girl is now with her dad in St. Clair County, officials said.

“She’s doing well physically, she’s safe and healthy right now,” the sheriff said.

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