(LONDON) — The FBI has joined the search for a 17-year-old Ohio girl who vanished after arriving at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Tuesday, authorities said.
The FBI Atlanta office described the missing girl, Emma Linek, as being “endangered” and in need of medication that she did not have at the time of her disappearance.
“Another thing that is of concern is that Emma has no known connection to the city of Atlanta or has never been here before or does not know anybody in Atlanta that we know of,” Christopher Macrae, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Atlanta field office, said during a news conference on Saturday with Linek’s father, Mike Linek.
Macrae said Emma Linek was clinically diagnosed with autism.
Emma Linek was initially booked on a Delta Airlines direct flight from Cleveland to Boston on Tuesday, but missed that plane, authorities said. Macrae said she caught another flight with a layover in Atlanta.
“That flight change was unscheduled. So she did not know that she was going to be in Atlanta,” Macrae said. “Her bags made it to Boston, but she did not. Our top priority is to locate Emma and to make sure she’s OK.”
Macrae said surveillance video at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport captured Linek, who also goes by the name Zari, wandering around the airport appearing to be lost.
He said Emma Linek was last seen around 10 a.m. Tuesday in the north daily parking lot at Hartsfield, leaving the airport with a stranger.
Macrae said law enforcement officials tracked down the man that Emma Linek was seen leaving the airport with and interviewed him.
“We’ve been in discussions with that individual, but at this time we have not located Emma. Emma was not with that individual,” Macrae said.
Macrae did not release the man’s name or say if he is a suspect in the girl’s disappearance.
Linek’s father, who attended the news conference in Atlanta with Macrae, pleaded with the public for any information on his daughter’s whereabouts.
“We’re anxious to have her back with us,” Mike Linek said.
He described his daughter as a “wonderful girl” with a “sweet bubbly personality.”
“She loves animals. She loves to sing,” Mike Linek said.
Emma Linek’s mother, Eleanor Linek, told ABC affiliate station WEWS-TV in Cleveland that her daughter was traveling to Boston to resume studies at therapeutic boarding school.
The 5-foot-3, 160-pound teenager was last seen wearing plaid pants, a black shirt and carrying a white pillow. Eleanor and Mike Linek said their daughter did not have a cellphone with her.
Eleanor Linek said she dropped her daughter off at Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland on Tuesday morning.
“We took her to the airport, she passed through security, we saw her go through security and to her gate,” Eleanor Linek said. “We don’t know what happened, if she got something to eat or what, but she missed her plane.”
Eleanor Linek said they are extremely worried for their daughter’s well-being and asked anyone who spots her to call authorities immediately.
“I look through feeds, sometimes, on my phone and you see missing children and you think, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine what their family is going through,’ and here we are,” she said. “We need to get the word out there to try and find our daughter.”
The FBI asked anyone with information about the missing girl to call the bureau’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324).
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