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Mike Terry, Deseret News
Robyn Atkinson's uncle Garrick Atkinson, far left, joins a group of searchers in the brush just above 12300 South and 1300 East in Sandy.

SANDY — Robyn Atkinson's father wrapped his arms around her, crying with joy that his daughter had come home.

"We thank everybody, everybody, everybody," Brandon Atkinson told reporters outside the Sandy Police Department. "We're just so happy to have her back."

Robyn Atkinson, 16, was found about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, about five hours after an Amber Alert had been issued for her. The alert brought a massive response from law enforcement and more than a hundred volunteers turned out to search for her.

Asked how she was doing as she left the police station, Atkinson told a Deseret News reporter: "Good."

A 17-year-old boy who was found with Atkinson was questioned and later released from police headquarters late Saturday night, but investigators refused to say if the girl had been abducted.

"We are investigating if charges are going to be filed," said Sandy Police Sgt. Victor Quezada.

Atkinson disappeared Friday afternoon after getting off the bus from Alta High School. The girl has a learning disability, her parents said, leaving her with the mental capacity of a 10-year-old. At first, her family thought she had gone to a football game. When she didn't come home, family members called police.

Initially, an endangered person advisory was issued Saturday morning. Sandy Police Chief Stephen Chapman later decided to issue an Amber Alert, which put the girl's information out on radios, TVs, Web sites, wireless devices and commuter notice boards.

"We had exhausted every other possibility that we could see that she may have wandered off or was with friends," he said. "For the safety of the child, we felt that the likelihood of her being abducted was very high."

Late Saturday afternoon, a tip was phoned in to a Sandy police hotline. Members of the Utah attorney general's specialized Child Abduction Response Team went to a Sandy home and found her.

At an LDS church near 11800 South and Highland Drive, cheers erupted when news spread that the girl was found.

"I'm just so glad she's OK," friend Natalie Cowan said as she wiped away tears. "I'm just really happy."

Clutching fliers they were handing out, Atkinson's friends hugged each other and wept.

"She's healthy and for the most part unscathed," the girl's stepmother, Abbey Atkinson said.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com