55ºF

Teen spotted miles from home, but family still searching

How to spot the signs of a runaway

photo

SAN ANTONIO – Faith Dodson's family has not seen or heard from their adopted daughter since the morning of Oct. 4. 

"I went upstairs to get ready for the day and came out and she was gone," Doug Dodson said.

Dodson, who adopted Faith as a toddler, says his daughter left a note saying she had run away.

Now 16 years old, Dodson says his daughter has a history of behavioral problems and was messaging older men online during her yearlong stay at the Medina Children's Home. 

Three days before she ran away, Faith never came home after school but showed up the following day at Marshall High School.

The teen was spotted days after she ran away at The Retreat at Medical Center apartments at 6101 Whitby, roughly 11 miles from her home near Potranco and Talley Road. 

Priscilla Gonzales, the property manager at The Retreat, noticed something about the girl looked troubling.

"She was disheveled. She didn't have any shoes on. Her hair was matted," said Gonzales. "She didn't look clean."

Gonzales saw Faith as she came into the apartment leasing office to use the computers. When she questioned the teen, she says Faith told her she was 18 years old and staying with a friend.

But then Gonzales saw Faith's face on a flyer as part a story on KSAT 12 featuring missing children that the Heidi Search Center is trying to locate.

Gonzales called police and the center, but Faith left the apartments soon after.

"Its good news to know that she's somewhere alive," Dodson said. "But we don't know that she's safe."

The executive director of the Heidi Search Center, Crystal Calloway, says there are ways to spot a runaway. 

"They're somewhere they have no business being -- bus stops with older males or females," Calloway said. "They're not in school when they should be at school in the middle of the afternoon. Faith should've been in school."

More than anything, Calloway says trust your gut if you suspect a child could be a runaway. 

"If it doesn't look right to you, if it doesn't feel right, its probably not right," she said. 

Calloway calls all runaways 'endangered runaways.'

"Because the truth of the matter is, they are in danger," said Calloway. "They're in danger because predators are relying on no one looking for them."

Dodson says the struggle to find his daughter is taking a daily toll on their family and his livelihood.

He quit his job to be in constant contact with numerous agencies that could help him track down his daughter.

"She has an 8-year-old sister who asks everyday, 'Is sissy home?' She prays every night that her sister will be home by Christmas," said Dodson. 

He adds that Faith might be going by her birth name, Faith Chancie. 

If you have any information about Faith's whereabouts, contact the Heidi Search Center.

Calloway suggests that you do not approach a runaway unless you already have some communication or relationship established with them.


About the Author: