A missing Manchester, Tenn., teen may be with an Internet acquaintance in Nashville, a Coffee County Sheriff's Office official said Friday.
Capt. Frank Watkins said evidence suggests that 15-year-old Al'Keiah Yazmun Martin, missing since Wednesday, met up with a young man she met on the Internet in Nashville after leaving home on her own this week.
"Any indication we have right now is it's a case of a runaway," Watkins said. "We don't have anything indicating that it is a kidnapping."
He said police are following leads provided by Martin's friends and family, in addition to social media buzz.
Friends told Martin's mother that the girl has been "meeting boys on Facebook," the Manchester Times reported Thursday. Watkins said information from Martin's friends indicated that she had been "seeking money to get away to Nashville" before she disappeared.
He said police believe Martin intended to meet someone who is around 18 years old.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has not issued an Amber Alert because the situation does not meet the state agency's criteria, Watkins said.
According to the TBI website, the requirement is "belief that the child is in imminent danger of bodily injury or death." Watkins said police do not suspect Martin is in immediate danger.
He said if an adult were found to be helping her, that person could face criminal charges for assisting a runaway or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
According to Tennessee law, harboring or hiding a runaway child is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $2,500 fine or both. The law states that contributing to the delinquency of a minor also is a class A misdemeanor.
Martin was an eighth-grader at Coffee County Middle School during the previous school year. Watkins said any information on her whereabouts can be given to the Coffee County Sheriff's Department at 931-728-3591.
Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6731.
Alex joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 as a region business reporter. He is a native of Dayton, Tenn., located 35 miles north of Chattanooga, and he is a fifth-generation Dayton native. Alex came to the Times Free Press as an editorial intern in July 2013. He was previously a correspondent at The Herald-News, located in Dayton, through college and editor-in-chief of the Triangle, Bryan College's student-led media group. Alex was ...