Convicted sex offender charged after Union County teen found safe, police say – WSOC TV | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Sixteen-year-old Lauren Heath has been found safe and reunited with her family after being missing since Oct. 13, Monroe Police said.

She was seen on Ring doorbell camera leaving her Indian Trail home. Several billboards with her photos and description were up in the area for the last week.

Police told Channel 9 she was located in Kirkwood, Missouri, which is in the St. Louis metropolitan area. That’s about 750 miles from her home.

In a press conference Thursday, officials announced that Lauren was found after police began investigating a suspicious vehicle in a Lowe’s parking lot.

Police said she was with 30-year-old Christopher James Porter, a man she had met on social media.

Heath told the police that she told Porter that she wanted to run away due to stress, and he encouraged her to do so.

Porter is a convicted sex offender, according to the Monroe Police Department. They did not specify what he was convicted for.

Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe spoke to her father Wednesday night as he was about to board a plane to pick up his daughter.

“We’re just overwhelmed with joy, it’s just hard to explain the feelings that we have right now, I can barely talk, my heart is beating out my chest just to know my baby’s been found, located safe, that’s the main thing, we’re just truly overjoyed, words can’t express how we feel right now,” he said.

“The response from the public and the assistance from other agencies, law enforcement, public and private entities has been tremendous and immeasurably helpful during this investigation. Our detectives have worked tirelessly to get to this resolution, and I could not be more proud or pleased with their efforts,” said Monroe Police Chief J. Bryan Gilliard.

Police said Porter is facing several charges, but the details have not been released yet.

The investigation is still open.

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