The family of a 16-year-old Moreno Valley girl who never returned home after spending time with a friend nine days ago issued a public plea for help in locating her on Tuesday.
Aranda Briones was last seen Jan. 13, before she spent the Sunday with a male friend she knew from school, her family said. The FBI and Riverside County sheriff’s human trafficking task force have joined the search since Moreno Valley police began investigating on Jan. 14.
The friend Briones was with later told police he dropped her off at Moreno Valley Community Park, at 13380 Frederick St., between 6 and 6:30 p.m. that evening, and that he has no idea what happened to her. But investigators haven’t been able to find evidence she was ever at the park.
“They pulled footage, and they don’t know if the time was wrong, but it looks like nobody was dropped off between 6 and 6:30,” her brother, Daniel Briones, told KTLA.
Daniel said the friend also told them Aranda got into a gray, four-door sedan. But the family doesn’t know anyone with a car like that.
Her brother said Aranda is closer to him than she is to most of her friends.
“That’s why it’s so out of the ordinary, because she wouldn’t just go somewhere without telling me,” Daniel said.
Police said they are still checking surveillance footage captured in the park and other locations throughout town to see if they can find a trace of the teen.
But according to Daniel, a female friend noticed Snapchat’s map feature, which allows users to track their friends’ locations, showed Aranda in Rubidoux that Sunday night. When the friend texted Aranda to ask why she was there, her phone appeared to have been abruptly turned off, and hasn’t been powered back on since.
The family canvassed Moreno Valley on Tuesday alongside Moreno Valley Police Chief Dave Lelevier, passing out hundreds of fliers in hopes of turning up clues in the case.
Matthew Horstkotte, Aranda’s uncle, said every day has been a struggle since she vanished.
“I can’t function at work, I wake up in the middle of the night,” he said. “It twists my stomach in knots.”
Daniel described his sister as a bright spirit and good student who’s been dedicated to her new job at a local mall.
“She’s very bubbly. She enjoys people, she knows how to talk to anyone,” he said. “When it comes to school, she was supposed to graduate as a junior.”
Police describe Aranda as being about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing around 110 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes. She was last seen wearing a white and blue jacket, a dark-colored shirt and dark jeans.
A tip line — 951-247-8700 — has been set up for anyone with information on the case. Information can also be referred to the Moreno Valley Police Missing Person and Runaway Hotline at 951-486-6731.