A Massillon teen labeled missing after she ran away from home a year ago said she’s alive and well and a married mother of a little boy.
A woman reported missing a year ago by her father says she’s alive and well.
Jordan Pekarek was on the Ohio Attorney General’s list as a missing endangered runaway until earlier this week when a relative notified her that her photograph was on the front page of The Repository on Sunday. Pekarek had been included in a missing persons story.
“I am Jordan Pekarek, and I am OK and I am alive,” she told The Repository on Monday.
Pekarek, whose last name became Penny when she married almost a year ago, is now a 19-year-old mother of a baby boy. She and her husband and son live in Arkansas, and she says she wants no contact with her father.
Christopher Pekarek of Massillon reported his daughter missing more than a year ago. Penny was just a few days shy of her 18th birthday.
“While I didn’t see it coming, I wasn’t exactly surprised,” he told the newspaper last week.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Massillon police reports show that he told police a year ago that his daughter had been upset about her spring break plans and that she ran away from home. He also said that all of her belongings were missing and that she had left a note in her bedroom saying she’d found a “better home.”
Police say teens are listed as missing persons even if they run away from home. They are listed as missing persons due to their age as juveniles and, therefore, “considered at risk or endangered,” said Sgt. Scott Prince of the Canton police Detective Bureau.
Penny called the newspaper after a relative in Stark County notified her that her picture was in the paper and she was listed as missing.
She said she had been planning to leave home since the age of 10.
“Pretty much my whole life was a countdown to my 18th birthday,” she said. “A week before I left, I knew this was it, I couldn’t do this anymore.”
So four days before her birthday, she packed her bags and walked right by her father as he slept on the couch. She took the $200 she had saved from baby-sitting jobs and tutoring friends.
She met up with an Arkansas man she had been playing Xbox online with while she was living with her father. He’s now 21. They married last June, and have a baby boy.
“Life is great now,” she said.
When a relative called to tell her Sunday that she was on the missing persons list, she called Massillon police to tell them she wasn’t missing.
Police advised her to contact her local police department in Arkansas with an ID showing proof of her maiden name. She still had her temporary Ohio driver’s license bearing her maiden name and the photo that was on Sunday’s front page. She took it to the police department where an officer called the Ohio Attorney General’s office and, by Monday, she was no longer listed.
Page 2 of 2 - “I was extremely mad,” she said after learning she was on the list. “I was mad at my birth parent because of his statements (in the paper).”
The Repository had called him for comment on a story about missing persons after three missing Cleveland women, two of which had been teens, were rescued last week. He had not solicited the newspaper for the story, but the reporter called him in search of a parent whose teen had been reported missing.
Penny said she that she did not want to talk to her father.
“He knew that I wasn’t missing. I sent him an email and I tried calling him” two days after she left home, she said. She said he had her cellphone number and that “he never once called me. He never once tried to locate me.”
She has advice for other teens considering leaving home: “I wouldn’t recommend it (running away) before 18 because you can still get in trouble for leaving early because you’re still a minor,” Penny said. “If it’s just (a case of) ‘I don’t want to listen to my parents,’ I would say stick it out.”
She said she left as the result of domestic issues.
She also advises anyone who is listed as missing but really isn’t to “contact police and explain to them you’re OK.”
Repository Assistant Managing Editor Veronica Van Dress contributed to this report.
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