Missing 13-year-old Utah girl found unharmed

  • Associated Press
  • January 11, 2013 - 5:26 AM

SALT LAKE CITY - A 13-year-old girl whose disappearance this week without shoes or a coat in the chilly Salt Lake City area caused widespread alarm was found unharmed, police said early Friday.

Brooklyn Gittins telephoned her grandmother late Thursday night from a Wal-Mart store in South Jordan, Unified Police spokesman Lt. Justin Hoyal said. The woman then contacted police and officers found the child.

"Brooklyn was not injured and is fine," Hoyal said in a press statement. "She did not have on shoes, a coat, and was not wearing glasses."

Hoyal said authorities suspect that she was picked up and harbored by one or more people and police are trying to find out who they are.

He didn't say if the girl told authorities anything about how she spent the past two days.

She disappeared Tuesday evening, causing widespread concern. A major snowstorm Thursday prompted some 1,000 volunteers to join police in searching 17 square miles in the area near Gittins' home in Herriman, a Salt Lake City suburb about 18 miles southwest of downtown.

"This was a successful investigation and we appreciate all the efforts by the community, public safety personnel, and the media in response to Brooklyn's disappearance," Hoyal said.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said Thursday before she was found that the circumstances surrounding the case concened authorities, especially because it appeared her departure was unplanned.

Authorities were also concerned because of the storm that is expected to dump as much as 7 inches of snow and bring freezing temperatures.

Gittins' grandfather Craig Hiller made a plea at the news conference that for her to come back. He said she's a typical teenage girl who is very outgoing in some cases and very subdued in others.

The first time she ran away, she came back a short while later, Hiller said.

Investigators also interviewed friends and acquaintances during the search.

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