Missing Herriman teen found safe; search on for person she was with

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 8:00 a.m. MST

Brooklyn Gittins was missing for two days before she was found safe late Thursday.

Family photo

HERRIMAN — A 13-year-old girl missing for two days was found safe late Thursday.

But while the search for Brooklyn Gittins is over, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said detectives were now searching for the person, or people, she was with.

"The case is not closed. This situation is still under investigation. Although she has been safely reunited with her extremely happy family … it is clear that we have more work to do on this case."

Brooklyn called her grandmother from Wal-Mart, 11328 S. Jordan Gateway (400 West), at about 11:30 p.m. She was still wearing the same pajamas that police reported her missing in, and didn't have shoes, a coat or her glasses, Winder said.

The young girl seemed to be physically and emotionally fine, he said. Investigators believe she left her house at 13912 S. Friendship Drive (5755 West) through a bedroom window and was then picked up by somebody in a car. Police believe she left the house on her own. But whether she was coaxed or what kind of influence was put on her to leave, was unknown Friday.

Regardless, Winder said Brooklyn was a "victim" and a criminal investigation was under way.

"She's 13 years old. That isn't a question of want or can, it's a question of taken," he said.

Winder said his investigators had good leads on who Brooklyn was with, and encouraged that person to call police immediately.

"The individual that may have been with Brooklyn for the past several days,we're going to find him," he said.

The sheriff said he wanted to wait until he had a better understanding of what happened before announcing what potential charges that individual might face. He described Brooklyn as being "extremely happy" to be back with her family.

Brooklyn's disappearance sparked a massive search effort, particularly on Thursday when more than 1,000 volunteers, 90 law enforcers and 30 fire department personnel, along with additional assistance from Herriman City and others, spent the majority of the day conducting a meticulous grid search around Herriman.

Winder believes whoever Brooklyn was with saw news reports of those efforts and felt pressure to drop her off somewhere so she could be reunited with her family.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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