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Missing 15-Year-Old Found Safe In California

The 15-year-old, missing since Monday, is on her way home to family today.

Victoria Yeutter, , was located Wednesday, thousands of miles from her Potomac home.

Family, friends and strangers were on the search for the missing girl, . Less than 24 hours after Victoria was reported missing, hundreds of Facebook posts, tweets, Tumblr posts and blogs from as far as Los Angles and Scotland, U.K., were calling for her safe return -- and they worked. Montgomery County Police confirmed Thursday that Yeutter was located and is in custody after bussing all the way from Maryland to California in less than 72 hours.

The hundreds of individuals who shared in the social media campaign to search for Victoria helped to find the missing girl, according to Yeutter family friend Fred Morris.

“Somebody on the bus thought it was suspicious that she was traveling so young,” Morris said. “She went on the page, recognized her and called the authorities.”

Morris’s daughter, Madeleine, and wife, Mary, had the idea of starting a Facebook page to look for Victoria after learning of her disappearance Monday. Madeleine, 14, a freshman at , has been Victoria's friend since the two were in grade school together, and was devastated to hear of her friend’s disappearance. Madeleine said she remembered other successful missing person social media campaigns and hoped the same might work for Victoria’s case.

“We just wanted to get the word out,” Madeleine said. “That’s the fastest way anyone would see her picture.”

By Tuesday, a day after Victoria’s disappearance, the Facebook page had been shared hundreds of times, with posts tumbling into Twitter, blogs and Tumblr.

As family and friends fretted back home, the international search for Victoria culminated with a woman sitting on the same bus traveling to Oklahoma. After chatting with Victoria, the woman became suspicious of the young girl traveling by herself, Fred Morris said. The woman later checked a website for missing children and alerted police after recognizing the girl’s photo.

Victoria was in the custody of law enforcement in California as of 5:07 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, according to Montgomery County Police spokesperson Rebecca Innocenti.

Victoria’s bus on Wednesday made a scheduled stop a few hours outside Long Beach, California, where a local cop, aware of reports of the missing teenager, spotted her, according to an Omaha World-Herald report.

As of Wednesday night, Victoria was waiting in Los Angeles for a family member to fly out and accompany her back to Maryland on Thursday. Victoria’s mother, Cristy Yeutter, and father, Clayton Yeutter, a former U.S. Agriculture Secretary, are waiting for Victoria’s return in Maryland.

"We're just sorry that we've put a lot of other good people through this ... but hopefully when she gets back we can get things back on track again," Clayton Yeutter told the Omaha World-Herald.

Meanwhile, those hundreds of individuals who shared in Victoria’s search online are celebrating her safe return to the family. A message to followers was posted on the Facebook page Wednesday night:

“Victoria has been found, she's safe and she's in custody. Her family is working to bring her home. Thanks to all of you, Victoria was recognized. The family is so very grateful for the outpouring of love and support you gave to Victoria and her family! Thank you thank you thank you! We will share more with you as soon as we know more details!”

 “We’re thrilled, thrilled,” Morris said. “Victoria didn’t even know about the [Facebook page]. Finally, something good came out of the Internet.”

Joe Thomas April 13, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Much ado about nothing. The parents should lock her little butt up in the house for a year.
Joe April 13, 2012 at 02:48 PM
All that time, effort and police involvement was just time wasted on a runaway. I am glad she was found but I'd really like to hear about why she ran away. Unless it was abuse, negligence, or any other issues where she was living in a harmful situation, running away was not the action to take. The younger generations needs to learn that there are consequences for their actions. She could have been severely hurt, raped, kidnapped, killed or traumatized. Generous people spent their time looking for her, taxpayers money on the police effort, and family and friends genuinely worried for her well-being and return safetly home. And smart thinking of the lady on the bus who was suspicious. People need to be more proactive than ignorant saying "not my business" or it could have been much longer for her to be found if at all.
Barry April 13, 2012 at 05:40 PM
I'm just wondering WHY she ran away in the first place? Anyone know?
Michelle holden April 13, 2012 at 09:24 PM
We give teens too much freedom to make wrong decisions in life we need to be more invoved even if they fight us all the way into adult hood
Nancy April 14, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Finding a 14 year old runaway is NOT "time wasted". It may easily have saved her life.
Luis April 14, 2012 at 02:43 AM
She most likely had family problems like many of us. She felt neglected and ran away.
chris April 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM
When are we going to start giving our missing black kids some national attention haven't seen one of them on TV or any other media source. I guess we don't go missing. When is the last time you've seen a search for a missing black child
Kimberly mcdonald April 15, 2012 at 05:28 PM
It must be a lack of love at home,she didn't run away for nothing.the parents need to be investigated,why would she leave her comfort zone,to risk her life?!
Katie Griffith (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Thanks for the information Susan!
BMB April 16, 2012 at 02:48 PM
"...get things back on track again"???? Sounds to me like things have never been on track in the first place.
Katie Griffith (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 02:52 PM
I think at this point it's for the family to work out the issues that may have cause Victoria to leave her home. It isn't very helpful to speculate about personal issues, or to accuse without basis. The important thing, and what I found very touching, is the amount of people who took a few minutes to spread the word about her disappearance, and help to bring her home. Cristy Yeutter is correct -- it can be dangerous to post pictures and personal information of minors on the Internet (http://potomac.patch.com/articles/attorney-general-holds-community-forum-on-internet-safety-and-privacy), but I'm glad that in this case it was more of a help than a hindrance.
Joe Thomas April 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM
I don't understand these comments about "posting their childrens photos" stuff. Every kid 12 or over has a Facebook page. Every kid 12 or over has 500 Facebook friends. All of those 500 friends post photos of each other. In other words whether you like it or not your kid's photos are all over the Internet.
Theresa Defino April 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM
It must be a serious burden to always have the right answer to everything, Susan.
Joe Thomas April 17, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Susan I am in awe of you. However in one year your 13 year old will be sharing photos, having her photo taken by others in school and out of school, and will be all over the Internet. She/he probably has a Facebook account that you don't know about.
Theresa Defino April 18, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Sarcasm, Susan, not cyber-bullying in the least.
Theresa Defino April 18, 2012 at 01:56 PM
My comment had nothing to do with FB. Please read again. Don't accuse me of cyber-bullying.
Jeff Hawkins April 18, 2012 at 02:52 PM
OK..... all-together now everybody!!! In your best Michael Buffer voices: LEEEETTTTSSSS GET READYYEEEE TOOOO RUMMMMMBLLLLLEEEE !!!!!
Sharon April 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Jeff, goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood one! LOL!
Theresa Defino April 18, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Neither of us are teens; that's just one way in which that characterization is off base, not the mention that the actual content of the comment doesn't fit, either. You may also wish to familiarize yourself with what happens when you hit the "reply" button in the comments, vs. simply posting a comment in an open box at the bottom. For an aspiring BOE member to brand one sentence from an adult "cyber-bullying" (and taken together with your actions in that other thread where you opposed statement I made in a thread nearly a year ago) raises so many concerns.
Joe Thomas April 18, 2012 at 08:40 PM
I propose a steel cage match.
Mary Illian April 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Sysan- I think what Theresa is trying to get across to you is that you are being perceived as a know-it-all.... and one of those who set themselves above everyone else by blowing your own horn. We don't really care what you allow your daughter to do. The girl was found thanks to an intelligent woman on a bus. You don't know why the furl ran away any more than I do. Speculation does not equal truth...
Virginia M. Richardson April 19, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Joe, would you think it was time wasted if your daughter was lost and then found. Is it your business why she ran away? I'm mighty glad her safety didn't depend upon you. VMR
Joe Thomas April 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM
When my daughter was 15 she had no incentive to sneak out of the house, somehow make her way to DC, and buy a bus ticket for California. So no.....I don't think that it would have happened. There must have been quite a bit of drama going on inside that house.
Theresa Defino April 20, 2012 at 11:48 AM
@Mary: Exactly right on the perception expressed in your first line, here and in other comments on this site.
christine bartholomew May 04, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Ok children, that's quite enough. The most important issue is the young lady is safe. As you know things happen for a reason. This could have gone the wrong way.
smokey j May 16, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Just be glad it wasn't your child my son done the same thing almost and it had nothing to do with home life it was a school thing.....just because kids make mistakes doesn't mean its always the parents....PEER PRESURE for teens suck...its upsetting for people to blame her parents until they know the facts ...I placed rules my home and provide a very stable home for my children and my son still left because of PEER PRESURE.....
Renee Horn May 17, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I have to say that kids leave home for multiple reasons and its not always because of their homelife. As for the person that left the comment about every child 12 and over having a Facebook page that isn't true. My daughter is 12 and has asked for a Facebook page. My reply has been no and she abides by it. Placing our kids pictures online places them in danger from pedophiles and other sick people. My child will not have a Facebook page until I feel she has reached a maturity level where she comprehends and understands the dangers that go along with it.
Joe Thomas May 17, 2012 at 09:40 PM
You have no idea what you are talking about. You may think that your daughter doesn't have an account but that doesn't mean that she didn't create one when you weren't home or at a friends house. If you think that a sex offender patrols Facebook looking for pretty photos than you are totally naive. They can find as many kids as they want at the mall and at other places where kids gather.
Rachel June 05, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Absolutely agree. I am happy this child was found, but it takes a lot of privilege (both class and/or racial) to create this type of media attention.
Xochitl Johnson June 26, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Oh, I know why she ran; she's an acquaintance of my friend; she ran away because she had behavioral problems and her parents were going to send her to this boarding school for troubled kids: http://caloteens.com/ They told her; she freaked out, and ran. I don't blame them, but it's also hard to blame her. The people at this school are often seriously troubled and there have been problems with students sexually harassing and assaulting each other.

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