A missing Florida teen who vanished five years ago at age 14 but recently mailed letters home to her family has turned up and reported herself to be “safe,” PEOPLE confirms.
Few other details were released by the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, which reached out to the missing Emily Paul with a video on Facebook after her family reported receiving the letters last month.
It was unclear where she is or whether she’s spoken to her family, but after walking into an unidentified police department where authorities verified her identity, Paul, who now would be 19, “stated that she was safe, she had a support system and she was happy where she was,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Her mother, Pam Massimiani, who first shared news about the letters July 26 on her Facebook page, responded Wednesday to another friend’s post about Emily’s discovery, saying, “It is the Grace of God that has sustained me through this. I give Him all the Glory Honor and Praise!”
Neither Massimiani nor the sheriff’s office has shared the content of Emily’s letters home.
Emily’s last known prior contact with her family came in April 2013, when authorities and her family said she left a note stating her intentions to run away and then vanished with a packed suitcase from the family’s home in Southport.
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Police logged her disappearance as a missing person’s case, and noted that she appeared to follow tips found on websites that describe steps to take for a successful runaway, the Panama City News Herald reported. Emily fled with items such as her Xbox that might have linked her to online connections, and she never resurfaced on social media.
Three pings of Emily’s cell phone in the week that followed were the last evidence of her movements.
“Earlier this month, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office was notified that family members of Emily Paul had received letters in the mail from her,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “In response to this, Captain Jason Daffin posted a video on Facebook, requesting Emily reach out to law enforcement, so that her safety coul