The Latest: 4 girls found safe trying to sneak into facility

AP News
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Posted: Apr 29, 2016 8:29 PM
The Latest: 4 girls found safe trying to sneak into facility

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on four girls who ran away from a foster home near Tampa, Florida. (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says authorities have found four girls who apparently ran away from a facility for foster children near Tampa.

Spokeswoman Debbie Carter said in an email that the children were found Friday evening as they tried to climb back over a fence at the facility.

Carter says the girls originally ran away to a nearby park and broke into an abandoned residence. She says the girls stayed there all day and were attempting to return to A Kids Place when they were discovered.

The girls are ages 13, 11, 10 and 4. Carter says they will be interviewed by detectives and medially cleared.

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4:35 p.m.

Officials say they have not yet found four girls who apparently ran away from a facility for foster children near Tampa. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information about their whereabouts.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski said during an afternoon news conference that detectives have interviewed school classmates and other foster children.

"Our concern obviously gets greater the more time they're gone," she said.

The four girls — three sisters and a fourth, unrelated girl — put pillows under their sheets Thursday night to make it look as if they were in bed. They then slipped out a window and around a fence to leave A Kids Place, a facility east of downtown Tampa.

The girls are ages 13, 11, 10 and 4.

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11:21 a.m.

Officials say four girls who apparently ran away from a facility for foster children near Tampa put pillows under their sheets to make it look like they were in bed.

But staff members at A Kids Place discovered the girls — ages 13, 11, 10 and 4 — missing during a bed check Thursday just before midnight. They had last been seen at 10 p.m.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Col. Donna Lusczynski said at a news conference that law enforcement officials searched door-to-door in the rural neighborhood east of Tampa. They're also checking with the relatives of the girls. The younger three are sisters, who've been at the facility since March. The older child has been there since February.

Lusczynski says they're interviewing children and staff at the home. She says at least two girls had discussed running away with other children.

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6:53 a.m.

Authorities were searching Friday for four foster children who were discovered missing from their beds during head count at a private foster care home near Tampa.

Officials at A Kids Place believe the girls — ages 13, 11, 10 and 4 — climbed out a window between 10 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Friday, Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said in a news release. Then, they either scaled a fence or were able to squeeze through an opening at the gate.

Carter said 4-year-old Allison Nelson, 10-year-old Anabella Gonzalez and 11-year-old Heavenlynn Gonzalez are sisters. They are with 13-year-old Ashlyn Smith.

Officials at the home told authorities they didn't know what the girls were wearing when they disappeared. They have no medical issues or disabilities and don't take any medication.

A woman who answered the phone at A Kids Place declined to answer a reporter's questions.

A Kids Place opened in 2009. Then, it was described in local news reports as a $5.2-million, 60-bed facility that serves as a temporary shelter for children from birth to 17. The facility is where law enforcement brings children in the first traumatic hours after they are removed from their homes.