Missing East Orange, NJ teen ran away to New York, prosecutor says
EAST ORANGE — A 14-year-old girl who had been missing for nearly two months was not abducted. She had run away to New York and had been staying at a shelter in Brooklyn, authorities said.
Essex County Acting Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said Jashyah Moore traveled a "circuitous" route after leaving an East Orange deli on Oct. 14 that took her to several locations in New Jersey before settling in at the shelter.
He said the involvement of other people who may have helped her or provided a place to stay is still under investigation.
"This was an extremely resilient and resourceful young lady and she decided she wanted to be someplace other than where she had been and she made it happen," Stephens said.
Her tearful mother told reporters earlier in the week she did not believe she was a runaway and that she feared for her daughter's safety.
Why did she run away?
Stephens said it not yet clear why Moore ran away. There was no open case on her with New Jersey's Department of Child Protection and Permanency.
"The young lady appears to have run away and did not want to make herself known to anyone where she was. She seemed to be more at ease where she was," Stephens said.
She went to an NYPD station in Harlem after meeting with a man who Stephens said recognized her and was “familiar” with her. There was no criminal intent on the man's part, according to the prosecutor.
Stephens credited Moore's safe return as a successful joint effort between his office and the FBI, State Police, the Essex County Sheriff's Office, East Orange police and the media.
Stephens would not confirm reports that Moore had cut her hair but said an updated picture would be released.
No immediate family reunion
Moore did not immediately return home after being found. She was in the custody of DCF. A meeting was scheduled for Friday afternoon with her mother, Jamie Moore, and law enforcement.
A $20,000 reward for information leading to the teen's safe return had been offered by the Essex County Crime Stoppers Program and some concerned local business owners. Stephens said the reward has not been claimed.