Colfax family uses Facebook to find teen runaway

Search for Colfax High student includes poster, sheriff’s aid
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A Colfax family’s attempt to reunite with their runaway daughter has gone viral on the Internet. Jason Russell said that his daughter packed a suitcase and left their Colfax home Dec. 9. Since then, he hasn’t heard from her, doesn’t know where she is and has spent each day worrying about her. But he and other family members and friends have also acted, putting up posters, establishing a Facebook page and, early on, contacting law enforcement. Russell said Tuesday that a tip he declined to elaborate on makes him believe that his daughter is alive but that he continues to have serious concerns and wants her back home. Late Tuesday afternoon, Russell said his hopes were bolstered by a second tip saying the teen was on her way home. The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is also treating the girl at this time as a runaway, Lt. Mark Reed said. But an investigation is continuing to attempt to locate the teen and bring her back after she voluntarily left home, he said. “From what we are able to gather, she’s classified as a runaway,” Reed said. “We are looking at places she may be and are in contact with her family and friends.” Russell contacted the Sheriff’s Office shortly after his daughter left. As a parent concerned about his daughter’s safety, Russell said he has been dealing with the stress of not knowing where the girl is and how she’s doing for the previous 12 days. “A lot of things run through your head over 12 days,” Russell said. “I was thinking she could be frozen to death on the side of the highway. I’ve been feeling panic for 12 days.” In an effort to find his daughter, Russell produced and put up about 100 posters in the Auburn area. He also handed them out to people for placement in Galt, Grass Valley and Roseville. The16-year-old Colfax High School junior has been missing from school since Friday, Dec. 9 and classes don’t end until Thursday, Russell said. As the days of not knowing continued, Russell called all the hospitals in the area and contacted the Sheriff’s Office. Last Thursday, a Facebook page was established and Russell said he’s heard from 40 people offering hope and help. “It went like wildfire, which we’re happy for,” Russell said. “If it happened to someone else, I would be helping out too.” The girl’s name is Ashley Russell. She’s 5-feet-6 and weighs about 160 pounds, with blonde hair and blue eyes. The Facebook page is Find Ashley Russell. For her father, a return home means a chance to get his daughter back on track in school and moving toward future goals. Russell said he’s also concerned about who she may be with. “She’s been talking about the Air Force,” Russell said. “But no matter what happens, the message we want to send is ‘We’ll always love you. We’re never not going to love you.’” Reed said that the Sheriff’s Office will respond to a missing person report right away. A common misconception is that authorities wait 24 hours before they can take a missing person report, he said. “If a husband comes home and finds his wife missing, a deputy will respond to take a report because time is of the essence,” Reed said. “Especially if it’s a child, search and rescue operations need to move quickly.” Reed said Russell contacted the office early on and while the report is being treated as a runaway, investigators would like to talk to his daughter to confirm she is OK.