A University of Minnesota student traveling alone in India has been found after missing for 48 hours and an intense international search effort.
Elizabeth Mann, 20, of Hastings, was last seen at around 5 a.m. Thursday at Bunkd Hostels in Anjuna, a costal village in Goa in the southwestern part of the country. She had been staying there since Oct. 24 and was looking forward to attending a yoga retreat there in December, her aunt Jenny Jenson-Hoffman said.
Jenson-Hoffman said around 3:30 Friday that Mann was found safe and they were working with the U.S. Embassy to escort her home. She had no further details on the disappearance, where she was located or her condition. “All we know is...she’s in a safe spot,” she said, adding Mann would be on a flight back home soon.
A Facebook page set up by Mann’s family also announced that she was discovered safely, adding that “At this time we ask that you respect the [family’s] privacy and continue the prayers as they work to bring Elizabeth home.”
Mann had been in contact with her parents almost daily since arriving in Anjuna, but things got strange on Halloween night, her aunt said. The manager of the hostel told her parents that Mann was seen with an unknown man who had been targeting her, she said.
“The manager felt she was unsafe,” Jenson-Hoffman said.
Police found the man and questioned him, but released him after they did not have enough evidence to hold him. Mann was advised to leave the country and return home. Her parents bought her a plane ticket. She last had contact with her parents in a FaceTime chat at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday Twin Cities time and was supposed to have boarded a flight Thursday, Jenson-Hoffman said.
Mann was not in her room when hostel staff went to wake her Thursday morning. All of her belongings were left in her room except for $60 cash and her passport, Jenson-Hoffman said.
A report in the Times of India said video showed Mann leaving the hostel at 5 a.m. Thursday.
“We don’t know if this was voluntary or involuntary,” her aunt said.
Officials from the U.S. Embassy tracked down the suspected man, but he was not with Mann and did not know where she was, Jenson-Hoffman said.
Family and friends of Mann contacted Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office and have filed a missing person’s report in India. They produced fliers to distribute across the area where Mann was last seen. Through contacts, several in the region were on the ground searching and knocking on doors in the popular tourist town of Anjuna.
“The family would like to extend their gratitude to all who have reached out with prayer, support and assistance both in the US and in India. At this time we ask that you respect the families’ privacy and continue the prayers as they work to bring Elizabeth home,” the Facebook page said.
Mann has a 4.0 grade-point average and is set to graduate in the spring. She went to Asia with a friend, but in mid-October the two went their separate ways. Mann was drawn to India because of her love of travel and yoga.