An 18-year-old listed as a critical missing person said she was never hiding or in danger, insisting she stayed in contact with her social worker while the Metropolitan Police Department launched an effort to find her.
Police listed Vaneshia Weaver as missing since Feb. 16, 2017, last seen in Columbia Heights. But in an email sent to WUSA early Saturday, Weaver said she was stunned to see her picture on the local news, and maintained she never disappeared.
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“I asked myself, ‘how is this happening? I’m not missing,” Weaver said in an interview at her Takoma home. “I was talking with my social worker through text, email, on the phone, every day.”
The misunderstanding may have started with a simple change in address. Weaver is estranged from her mother, and her father lives with another family member. When Weaver signed up to live in an independent group home earlier this year, a space was not yet available.
Weaver said she lived with her father at an address listed to her aunt. When she eventually failed to show up at her new group home, a red flag was raised.
“I moved in with my dad before my new group home because I wanted to get out of my old home as soon as possible,” Weaver said. “It had mice, roaches, and was just unsanitary.”
It’s unclear who initially reported Weaver as missing, and a message left with her social worker was not returned by late Saturday.
Metropolitan Police removed Weaver from its list of critical missing people, at a time of heightened attention concerning the District’s number of missing girls.
“If a friend or family member reports a loved one missing, we must approach the situation with gravity, no matter their age,” said Margarita A. Mikhaylova, a D.C. police spokeswoman. “We must make sure that this individual is safe.”
Weaver is now settled in her new residence, planning on applying to college and becoming a criminal defense lawyer. She asked runaway girls who see her story to let authorities know they are safe, and put minds at ease.
“It’s not worth the heartache, and you should just turn yourselves in,” Weaver said. “Because it's just going to get worse after.”
For information and stats on missing people in the District click here.