Police in Montgomery County never told the public a teen was missing until her body was found in Virginia this weekend.
Damaris A. Reyes Rivas, 15, was reported missing on Dec. 10, 2016. According to a spokesperson with the Montgomery County Police Department, the teen ran away and “voluntarily left her home.”
Detectives with Fairfax County Police found Rivas’ remains on Saturday in the 7100 block of Wimsatt Road in Springfield, Va.
She suffered trauma to her upper body, police said. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide.
MCP release many photos of missing people and typically post them online – but there isn’t a single mention of Rivas. A spokesperson for MCP said that’s because the 15-year-old did not fit their criteria of “critically missing.”
In a phone call, Capt. Paul Starks told WUSA9 a police report was filed in December, but the department only publicizes it if the missing person is considered critical.
Critical, Starks explained, is determined with the help of criteria outlined by the National Crime Information Center, or NCIC.
NCIC’s “Missing Person File” was created in 1975, and according to the FBI, “contains records for individuals reported missing” who meet the following criteria:
- Have a proven physical or mental disability,
- Are missing under circumstances indicating that they may be in physical danger,
- Are missing after a catastrophe,
- Are missing under circumstances indicating their disappearance may not have been voluntary,
- Are under the age of 21 and do not meet the above criteria,
- Or are 21 and older and do not meet any of the above criteria but for whom there is a reasonable concern for their safety
NCIC’s criteria has called for anyone under the age of 21 to be entered into the national system since 2003. Rivas, at 15 years old, clearly met the criteria MCP said they use when determining whether or not to notify the public.
But that isn’t the only one Rivas met. At some point, police also believed she might be in physical danger.
Both Fairfax County Police and MCP are adamant Rivas left her home on her own accord.
MCP said she even stayed in touch with her mom into the month of January, used social media, spoke with friends, and at least once responded to a text message from their detectives. They said they searched for her in every possible way, and at one point, the young girl told her mother she was okay, but not coming home.
At some point that changed. A spokesperson for Fairfax County Police told WUSA9 detectives received information that Rivas had ties to gang members and may be in danger.
When asked about the discrepancy, MCP told WUSA9 they did not have any indication that the teen was in danger until late January. However, even with that information, MCP failed to release a single photo or piece of information about the teen.
The medical examiner has not released a time of death, but a spokesperson for Fairfax County Police told WUSA9, their detectives believe Rivas was killed in Fairfax County about a month ago.