Two Klein Collins High School students who went missing Monday were found safe Tuesday evening, according to officials.
Klein ISD officials say 15-year-old Alyssa Schaefer's uncle found her and a 16-year-old male student, identified by law enforcement as Noah Lewis, on Tuesday. Schaefer's mom said the two were hanging out in the woods in nearby Hanover Forest.
Lewis was transported home by law enforcement. Schaefer says he is a good friend and that she went with him on her own free will.
Schaefer says what pushed them to run and hide overnight is something that so many teens deal with but few are willing to talk about with their parents.
"Teenagers out there: Don't do this. It's kind of a really stupid idea," Schaefer said. "The stress for both of us, we just had stress going on...We walked from school and basically hid."
Concerned family members and Klein ISD Police were looking for the students who were spotted walking together after class at Klein Collins High School. Schaefer's mom reported her missing when she didn't arrive home by bus.
Police confirmed early Tuesday that Lewis was also missing, likely with Schaefer.
According to Klein ISD, an investigation revealed the missing girl asked a friend if they could come to her house after school. The friend said they could not come over, however.
Schaefer's mom says her daughter’s cell phone was turned off overnight, but it was turned on Tuesday morning.
That’s when she used the Find My iPhone App to track the phone to an area near a Stripes gas station, about one mile from the school.
Authorities from as far away as Galveston County were involved in the exhaustive searching; using a blood hound, ATVs and a helicopter to search for Schaefer and Lewis.
In an emotional interview with KHOU 11 News earlier in the morning, the mom said her daughter is normally very naive and is in the ROTC, is in the choir and goes to church.
"I just want her to come home safe," said Victoria Schaefer."I don't know where she is, so if anyone knows anything please reach out to me on my Facebook page or to the police. And just please, Alyssa, we love you so much and we just want you to come home safe."
Victoria Schaefer told KHOU 11 News she didn’t see any clear warning signs.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve worked with a family whose child goes missing for the first time, and they saw no warning signs,” said Beth Alberts with Texas Center For the Missing. “Then it happens, and you think, 'OK, maybe there were some issues that we just weren’t dealing with.'”
Alberts said a telltale sign is if a kid is isolating himself or herself and pulling away from a normal routine. However, she points out that it’s not always that obvious.
“They’re not cookie cutter cases. Every case is different,” Alberts said. “Kids are trying on adult clothes, and it’s difficult sometimes.”
Alberts said filing a missing persons report right away, as opposed to waiting around, can make all the difference in a case.
There is a state statute and federal law that requires law enforcement to take a missing persons report immediately and immediately enter that data into a national crime information center.
According to Alberts, many people and some agencies are misinformed and believe a loved one has to be missing for over 24 hours for an official report to be filed.
“It’s one of those myths that just continues. I think some of it is work avoidance,” Alberts said. “There is no waiting period. Not for children and not for adults.”