BOILING SPRING LAKES, N.C. -- A North Carolina woman who vanished as a teen in 2011 was found alive and safe in Ohio Friday, apparently living under an assumed identity, according to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.
Rachel Natacha Owens was 15 when she disappeared May 5, 2011. She was last seen getting off a school bus and into a car at her high school in Boiling Spring Lakes, south of Wilmington.
Shelley Lynch, a spokeswoman at the FBI Charlotte Field Office, told the Wilmington Star News the FBI had received information as recently as 2014 that Owens may be in the Ohio area. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said a tip led investigators to locate her in Columbus.
The sheriff’s office said Owens “left and remained away on her own will” and no foul play is suspected. They said Owens “went to great lengths to intentionally conceal her whereabouts,” allegedly assuming a false identity and birth date.
No charges are expected to be pursued, the sheriff’s office said.
FBI Special Agent Rich Novelli told the paper investigators followed numerous leads and in the U.S. and Mexico before eventually locating Owens with the help of local Ohio authorities.
“For all the agencies in Ohio to act as fast as they did and be in contact and cooperate with us, it was impressive on a case especially when some people assumed you are never going to find her because she is potentially deceased and you’re chasing a ghost,” Novelli told the paper. “Thankfully none of us gave up and I think we gave a great Christmas present to her family.”