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Alpine teen missing a week found safe, questions remain for family

Published: Friday, Aug. 23 2013 10:20 p.m. MDT

Indica Huddleston (Facebook) Indica Huddleston (Facebook)

ALPINE — The search for a missing 16-year-old girl that raised questions about online safety and how police investigate possible runaway children ended Friday.

Indica Huddleston was found safe and uninjured shortly before 6 p.m. Friday and was interviewed Friday night by members of the Lone Peak Police Department and the FBI, her family confirmed.

Her mother, Andrea Huddleston, said the family did not have much information about where their daughter has been or who she may have been with, but said before they rushed out the door to be reunited with Indica that this was "the call we've been longing for."

Indica's father, Bryan Huddleston, said late Friday that law enforcement representatives hadn't told them anything about what has happened over the past week. He confirmed that a criminal investigation was ongoing and possible criminal charges were being considered.

Lone Peak Police said that Indica had been found about 5:45 p.m. Friday somewhere in the Salt Lake Valley. It was not known is others were involved in the recovery or the girl's initial disappearance.

Indica was last seen a week ago. Her family found a note indicating she had run away, which prevented an Amber Alert from being issued reporting her disappearance.

Huddleston's parents were especially worried that while she might have left home on her own, evidence suggested she might have been lured away by an older man she met on Facebook.

Nevertheless, police assured the family that they were diligently looking for the girl. After days of wondering, police considered Thursday elevating her status to an endangered missing person, hoping to draw the public's focus to the case.

"The fact that she's been gone now for six days, hasn't contacted anybody, you know, relatives or friends that we are aware of … we are looking at maybe elevating this more from a runaway to a missing child," said Lone Peak police detective Dave Ventrano earlier this week.

Andrea Huddleston said the girl had never run away before, but the fear didn't set in until the sun rose last Saturday and the teen hadn't returned.

Police were reviewing Indica's phone records and social media history looking for indications of where she might have gone. Her parents reported spending several hours with FBI investigators Friday gathering more information about the girl.

Andrea Huddleston said Indica had 1,550 Facebook friends, and at least 1,000 of them could be considered persons of interest, her mother said.

"I didn't know she was talking to the kind of people she was talking to," the mother said. "I should have done a better job of monitoring, but I didn't."

What the Huddlestons have learned since their daughter disappeared through investigators and private detectives they've hired is that many of the "friends" Indica had on Facebook were adult men posing as someone else.

"Definitely we know there were bogus profiles," Huddleston said. "(There is) all this evidence that she thinks she's talking to one person and it's clearly not that person," the girl's mother said before learning that her daughter had been found.

As the police investigation developed through the week, Indica's family took to the Internet in a search of their own. Thousands on Facebook shared Indica's picture, coordinated efforts to distribute missing persons fliers and organized a candlelight vigil that would have taken place Sunday.

The Huddleston family's story crossed oceans and Indica was added to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children database.

As word spread that Indica had been located, supporters celebrated online. Messages offering condolences and supportive prayers turned to joy.

"Thank you everyone for your support and help in finding Indica Huddleston. She has been found and is home safe and sound with her family," read a Facebook post Friday night on the page run by family members. "We appreciate your support more than you know."

"Praise!" one woman responded. "Give her a hug!" said another.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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