GLENDALE, Calif. (CBS/KCAL/AP) Nancy Salas, the 22-year-old woman reported missing Wednesday, was found safe Thursday. She was not the victim of a kidnapping, as she reportedly told police at first, but had instead fled on her own.
Police say Salas was idolized and adored by family and friends as a successful student about to graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles, according to The Los Angeles Times.
"It's a tragic story," Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. "She didn't know how to handle it and she fled."
He says Salas said she fled because of intense pressure. Her parents believed she was weeks away from graduating at UCLA and were planning a party for her, but she had not been enrolled at UCLA since 2008.
Salas was reunited with her family in Glendale, outside of Los Angeles, late Thursday, nearly two days after she went missing. The report of her disappearance prompted a massive search. She had last been seen around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday after telling her family she was going on her usual run.
Salas turned up in a carpet store in Merced, over 250 miles away from her family's home, on Thursday morning, Lorenz said. She told police she'd been abducted by a man at knifepoint during her run and was taken to Merced by bus and train, he said.
Back home in her parents' living room late Thursday, a tearful Salas spoke to her family, friends and about 40 people who helped search for her. Univision's KMEX-TV was the only news organization allowed inside.
Salas choked back tears and thanked them for their "unconditional love," but she didn't explain exactly why or how she ran away.
"Yesterday, I wanted to disappear, and I did," she said in Spanish. "I want to ask your forgiveness for being dishonest and to say that I have a problem."MEDIA