Sheriff: Missing teen found safe in Wisconsin, adoptive father arrested

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MONROE CO., (WVLT) - On Thursday night, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said a missing teen was found safe in Madison, Wisconsin.

According to deputies, the 14-year-old girl left home on her own free will because of what investigators called a family situation.

"She's in good health. She's safe, she's warm," said Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones.

The girl was still in Wisconsin as of Thursday night. Authorities did not know how she got there and didn't reveal what her relationship was to the homeowner.

Authorities said they were investigating the possibility of other charges but wouldn't say what type or who those charges would be filed against.

The sheriff in Madison, Wisconsin, held a news conference the next day and said, "As much as Wisconsin celebrated Jaymee Kloss, we're celebrating this case as well, and as more information comes out, as a community, as a state, we'll celebrate that again, we have a save. And we'll be able to reunite this young girl with her family in Tennessee, which is really our goal."

The announcement Thursday of the missing girl's safety came hours after the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said an arrest was made in connection to the case. At that time, MCSO deputies did not share details about who was arrested, why, or where.

A short time later, investigators announced the girl's adoptive father, Randall Pruitt, was in custody.

Under WVLT News policy, the station rarely identifies potential victims of certain crimes, especially when those cases involve children, to protect their privacy. Even though some law enforcement officials have made certain information public, WVLT News has chosen not to report all the details of this case.

In earlier interviews with WVLT News, the girl's parents said the teen was last seen Saturday, January 13 at 11 p.m. at her Madisonville home. Officials said her mother went into her room on the morning of Jan. 14 at 4:30 a.m. to find the teen was gone. Investigators said the teen's bedroom window was found open. Other clothing was missing.

According to the girl's parents, the FBI began helping with the investigation.

During an interview with WVLT News, the girl's mother Christina sent a message to her daughter: "You are my sunshine, and will always be my sunshine. No matter what, I love you. Please come home."

During a news conference in the days after the girl's disappearance, Monroe County Sheriff's Office Detective Jason Fillyaw said, "She was last observed by cell phone GPS to be in the Corbin, Ky area. We would like to ask the public's help in any way."

Fillyaw said they reached out to the sheriff's office in Corbin, who then checked the area. The phone showed it was within a "relative" distance to the welcome center, just over the state line in Kentucky.

The sheriff's office said the girl's phone had not been active since "that last ping", and that she had not used her cell phone or presented herself on social media since then.

"There's some information that we are withholding at this time," Fillyaw said. "Just to maintain the integrity of the investigation...[just in case] it could possibly turn into some kind of prosecution."

The parents, Christina and Randall, said their daughter was homeschooled and loved being part of the farm lifestyle she was experiencing in Tennessee. From the area, Randall said they have family in Hamblen and Jefferson County areas.

According to her adoptive father, the family had just moved back to the area on Dec. 27; however, her parents did not think she had tried to go back to their previous home, saying "Nothing shows that. She wanted to move here for a farm setting, horses and things of that nature."

The girl's mother said her siblings are "very heartbroken. They miss her. They don't understand. 'Course none of us understand."

"It's like having your soul ripped out of your body. You can't think. You can't eat. You can't sleep. Life has just ceased for us since the day she left," Randall said.



 
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