Teen Reported Missing From Columbus Convention Found Safe

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A missing teenager has been found and returned to the custody of her parents.

15-year-old Ashley Lane disappeared from the Convention Center Saturday night while attending the Ohayocon convention.  Nearly 72 hours later, police found her safe in downtown Columbus

Ashley’s parents were gravely concerned for her safety, worried that she had been targeted or was the victim of foul play because she is transgender.  But police say her disappearance was of her own choosing - that she had planned to take off to meet someone.  They say she also admitted to them that she knew they were looking for her, but chose not to let anyone know that she was okay.

Lane speaks with her parents after being located in downtown Columbus Tuesday afternoon.

Witness Shane Sibole was at the intersection of Spring and High Streets Downtown, where police lured Ashley and took her into custody.  “I (saw) this girl with pink hair come flying, I mean running like crazy, and I never thought (anything) about it. So I walked in, used the bathroom, came back out and this lady was talking to her and I heard them saying ‘You need to report this and talk to somebody about this’. So I never thought nothing about it. Came back, got in my car, all the sudden four cop cars, two undercovers pulled up grabbed her.”

Columbus Police earlier told 10TV its Missing Persons Unit, with a staff of seven detectives, takes more than 4,500 missing persons reports every year, and said this case took manpower from others.  “It was a strain on the resources,” said Sergeant Rich Weiner. “We have a lot of cases- you heard the numbers earlier- how many cases these detectives work on each year. And it's kind of frustrating when we find out this was a planned event  It's unfortunate. But the most important thing is the family is reunited.”

Police say the teen will not face any legal consequences, but that they are still following up on where she’s been and who she was with.  Her parents asked for time before making any comment.