Five years ago, Emily Paul vanished from her home in Southport, Florida. She was 14 years old.
The Bay County Sheriff's Office has considered her to be a missing person ever since, but earlier this month they were notified that members of Paul's family had received letters from her, according to a post on the office's Facebook page. Her family contacted police, who decided to reach out directly to the teen over Facebook.
Capt. Jason Daffin posted a video on the social media site, requesting that she reach out to them.
“I want you to know that as a law enforcement officer I’m not at liberty to disclose to anybody where you’re at,” he said in the minute-and-a-half clip. “That’s nobody else’s business. That’s your privacy. You’re an adult so the only thing I can report back to anybody is that you’re okay, you’re safe and I know where you would like to be.”
Daffin encouraged Paul to call his office so he could close the missing persons case.
“There are a lot of people in the community who care about you, they love you, and they just want that peace of mind.”
On Tuesday, just weeks after Daffin posted his plea, Paul called the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
Cops asked her to go to a police department to verify that she was safe, ensuring that her call was not made under duress.
Just 30 minutes later, a second phone call came in, from another police department, stating they had a female in their lobby claiming to be the missing teen, and were able to confirm her identity through photographs.
Paul told an officer during a one-on-one interview that she was safe and happy, and that she had a support system. Police said she appeared to be in good health and that she arrived at and left the station by herself.
Paul’s missing persons case is now officially closed.
Her mother told WJHB in 2015, two years after she went missing, that she and her daughter had a loving relationship.
"She's a very good girl, a very friendly girl, fun loving," Pam Massimiani, told the Panama City Beach publication.
From the beginning, police suspected that Paul had run away.
[Photo: Bay County Sheriff's Office]