Even though Alicia Navarro turns 18 next week and three years have passed since her disappearance as of Thursday, police are still working to locate the Glendale teenager with autism who went missing from her home.
“Just because she turns 18 doesn’t change the status, the way detectives are handling the case,” Glendale Police spokeswoman Tiffany Ngalula said Thursday. “We will continue to work on the case as far as possible.”
Alicia’s case has two detectives and at least one lead a week comes in with a viable lead, Ngalula said, adding that potential sightings in other countries are being reported and investigated.
Alicia’s mother, Jessica Nuñez, expressed concern that her daughter may have been kidnapped, likely by someone she met through online gaming.
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“I’m more than 90% sure my daughter met this person online,” Nuñez told The Arizona Republic a year ago.
Kathleen Winn, director of Project25, a nonprofit that works with law enforcement agencies against human trafficking, has said Alicia appears to be returning home.
“The message she left suggests she wasn’t planning on being away very long and the clothes she left in her closet, some of her favorite things, also suggests to us that she herself didn’t know that she wasn’t going to return,” Winn previously told The Republic.
However, there is no evidence Alicia was kidnapped and she remains classified as an unknown missing person, according to Ngalula.
“No one just disappears”
On the morning of her disappearance, Alicia left a note in her bedroom that she was on the run but would be returning.
The handwritten note read: “I ran away. I’ll be back, I swear. I am sorry. – Alice”
According to a previous story from The Republic, the teen was diagnosed as “high functioning” on the autism spectrum and attended Bourgade Catholic High School in Phoenix. Alicia turns 18 on Tuesday.
Because Alicia’s mother said her daughter needed adult care, the girl’s disappearance marked the first time Arizona issued a silver alert for someone who was not an elderly person with dementia, Ngalula explained.
Trent Steele, president and national director of the non-profit investigative agency Anti-Predator Project, is leading the private investigation into Alicia’s disappearance.
“No one just disappears. There’s someone in the Valley, there’s someone in Arizona who knows something, and we need that person to come forward,” Steele said Thursday.
“Whoever kidnapped my daughter thought she would be just another statistic, that I would just let it happen. And that’s not going to happen,” Nuñez previously told The Republic.
“We hope that one day we can finally find Alicia safely and bring her back to her family,” she said.
Anyone with information regarding Alicia’s disappearance is asked to contact the Glendale Police Department at 623-930-3000 or the Anti-Predator Project at 305-796-4859 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Breaking News reporter Jose R. Gonzalez at email@example.com or on Twitter @jrgzztx.
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