Missing 14-Year-Old Manhattan Beach Teenager Found in San Diego

A Manhattan Beach teenager missing since Sunday was found unharmed Thursday in San Diego just hours after police released a photograph of a man she was seen with on the night she vanished.

Police found the 14-year-old at a home in San Diego after receiving a call from the homeowner that a person who was reported missing was at her residence, according to a news release from the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

The teenager was in the company of a 24-year-old man who told officers he drove to Manhattan Beach on Sunday after meeting the girl on a dating website where she claimed to be 19 years old, according to the release.

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Photograph of man sought for questioning in connection with teen’s disappearance. (Credit: Manhattan Beach Police Department)

The 14-year-old was last seen by family members on Sunday afternoon as she set out to take her dog, Popeye, for a walk around the neighborhood.

Two hours later a woman reported finding Popeye wandering alone, her parents said. But there was no sign of the teenager.

“So went out to see her and there was our dog with the leash on and our daughter wasn’t there and she hasn’t come home since,” father Joe Kritzer said.

About 11 a.m. Thursday, the Manhattan Beach Police Department issued a missing-person press release. It noted that the girl had run away in January and was found at a local hotel.

Police did not suspect foul play or an abduction in her more recent disappearance, the initial release stated.

Later Thursday afternoon, police issued the photo of the teen and an unidentified man, saying he was believed to have information on the girl’s disappearance.

The man was believed to have connections to the San Diego area, and the teen had last been seen with him in the area of Manhattan Beach Boulevard and Valley Drive around 6 p.m. on the day she disappeared, the release stated.

After her most recent disappearance on Sunday, the teenager’s parents said they discovered that she had been secretly posing as a 19-year-old woman in online chat rooms. They made the discovery after calling an unfamiliar number they found on her cell phone.

The 19-year-old man who answered the phone told the Kritzers that he met up with the 14-year-old in Hermosa Beach a few weeks earlier but realized right away she was much younger than her profile stated and left, her parents said.

After the teen was found, her parents said they were grateful she was alive and thanked everyone who called in with tips.

Note: When police first sent out a missing person announcement just before 11 a.m. Thursday in this case, detectives noted a “prior incident of (the teen) running away in January 2014,” when she was later located at a local motel. Police stated there was no evidence of abduction or foul play. This information was not included in an earlier version of this article, which has been updated and partially rewritten.

KTLA’s Mary Beth McDade contributed to this article.


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