The teenage girl whose disappearance inspired a personal Facebook plea by a police chief who once was a runaway himself, was never missing at all, authorities say.
Misdemeanor counts of falsely reporting a crime were filed last week in Le Sueur County District Court against Audrey’s mother, 35-year-old Tiffany M. Lukes, and the girl’s grandparents, 61-year-old Linda Lukes and 60-year-old Ronald Lukes.
Each were charged by summons and are scheduled to appear in court June 21. If convicted, the maximum punishment is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Audrey Lukes had been described as a chronic runaway ever since her family reported on Feb. 22 that she had been missing for several days. A month later and just as she turned 16, Audrey turned up safe in Duluth, more than 200 miles from her home southwest of the Twin Cities.
Shortly before Lukes surfaced, Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander drew on his experience as a runaway at age 13 in an open letter on Facebook appealing to her to come home.
According to the criminal complaints: Audrey spoke with Montgomery Police Sgt. Pete Bulger on March 23, saying she was in the Duluth area and that her mother and grandparents knew where she was.
She said she had been in contact with her family members frequently and had more than once gone back, the complaint read.
During the weekend of March 17-20, Audrey and her grandparents went out for ice cream. The mother and grandmother admitted they misled authorities into believing they didn’t know where Audrey was, the complaint said.
A telephone message left at the Lukes’ home seeking comment was not returned.