KIRKWOOD, Mo. — A missing teen from North Carolina was found safe Wednesday night in Kirkwood, Missouri. The Monroe Police Department says that Lauren Heath, 16, was found in a vehicle near the Lowes parking lot and Meachum Park. Convicted sex offender Christopher James Porter, 30, was in the driver’s seat.
Heath was reported missing on October 13 from Monroe, North Carolina. She was last seen on a doorbell camera leaving her home. Billboards were put up to help find her last week.
Kirkwood police were investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot near I-44 on October 25. A vehicle was not parked in a place where people normally park in the 1200 block of South Kirkwood.
Officers struck up a conversation with the driver to ask why the vehicle was parked there. During the course of the encounter, they discovered that the girl with the man in the vehicle was not related to him. She was missing from Monroe, North Carolina.
Kirkwood police are calling it a random encounter. The result of everyday police work yields results. This isn’t the first Missouri Miracle to have happened in Kirkwood.
Police say that Heath had her birth certificate on her. She also gave officers her mother’s phone number and they called her parents.
Heath told officers that she met Porter through an anonymous social messaging app. She wanted to run away from home and he convinced her to do that. He traveled from Oklahoma to North Carolina to pick her up.
According to the Monroe Police Department, Porter is now facing several charges in Missouri. They did not elaborate as to what those charges are. Kirkwood police say that formal charges are pending and that the FBI is involved in the investigation.
“We would like to thank all the cooperating agencies at the local, state and federal levels who assisted in this investigation, especially law enforcement in Kirkwood, Missouri. They found Ms. Heath using good old-fashioned police work,” states Monroe Police.
Heath has been reunited with her parents. They flew to Missouri last night to pick her up and will be traveling home soon.
This is a developing story. More details will be posted as they come into the FOX 2 Newsroom.