A missing 15-year-old girl and her boyfriend returned home Dec. 17 after failing to make curfew on Nov. 16. The two had stayed at a friend’s home because they were afraid of parental punishment as well as alleged charges against them for delinquency, according to the girl’s mother.
Megan Wodarski and Cameron Quinsenberry joined almost 800,000 other reported missing kids, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Beth Wodarski, Megan’s mother, said her daughter did not plan to run away, but rather acted irrationally when the person she expected to drive her home left without warning.
“She left [home] without a coat, her clothes,” Beth continued. “She wears contacts; she didn’t take any extra contacts and they’re special order, and she can’t just pick them up herself.”
Beth appeared at the Toledo Police station on Sylvania Avenue to report Megan’s absence. She said police told her Megan would have to be listed as a runaway because of her age, and there was little they could do. If she had been age 13 or younger, her case would have received more attention.
Toledo Police Detective Vince Mauro, who handles missing persons cases, disagreed, saying there are no charges, and the age of a missing child has little bearing on the procedure for handling the case. He went on to explain, however, that the police efforts are determined on a case-by-case basis.
“I don’t know who would have told her that … there’s no different procedure at all,” he said. “If they’re 13, and it’s never happened before, there’s a possibility that a cruiser would go out door to door, but if it’s a 15-year-old and it’s never happened before and it looked like something suspicious, they would do the same thing.”
At that point Beth took matters into her own hands, distributing fliers and relying on phone calls from people who claim to have sighted Megan.
“It’s not like the movies. The town doesn’t come together and everybody go search the woods and dogs come out; it’s not like that,” she explained. “Every day after work, I would come home, change and go driving around the east side, North Toledo [and] around Woodward [Avenue] because I got reports that she was around there.”
Beth eventually took a leave of absence from work to devote more time to her search efforts. Quinsenberry’s friends “gave her the runaround,” she said, thinking they were helping the young couple avoid trouble. The case-breaking tip arrived from one of Beth’s friends, who called saying she had communicated with Megan online.
“They were scared because Cameron’s friend kept telling them that the police were looking for them; they had charges against them; they were going to go to jail. And she said they were scared half to death,” Beth said.
“I was grasping at straws; I was doing everything I could to find her. It was like everything I tried, I was getting shut down.”
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) posted Megan’s photo and information on its Web site, according to Deborah Newman, senior case manager, as part of a multifaceted approach to solving about 3,500 of its cases under investigation.
NCMEC contacts family members to learn more about the children, posts pictures through 300 photo partners nationwide and provides resources for counseling.
To report a missing child, call (800) THE-LOST (843-5678) or visit www.missingkids.com.