It was a normal Thursday on May 5, 2011 when then 15-year-old Rachel Natacha Owens was seen climbing out of her school bus and walking into a nearby parking lot in Boiling Springs Lakes, North Carolina. A security camera showed Ownes walk behind a white building where she seemed to disappear forever. Although she had previously run away, she was never gone for very long. This time was different.
Her parents reported her missing and witness told the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office they had seen her enter a parked car shortly after leaving the school bus. Authorities found some posessions and letters written by Owens that lead them to believe she may have fled to Mexico, but neither the local Sheriff nor the FBI could locate her.
Earlier this week Ownes was found just a few states away in Ohio safe and healthy. She had gone to incredible lengths to stay hidden including changing her name and date of birth. FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch reported that the bureau had received information as early as 2014 that Owens could be in Ohio but did not actually locate her until last Friday. Working with investigators at the Westerville, Reynoldsburg, and Powell Police Departments, the Cincinnati FBI field office was finally able to bring Owens’ family some good news just before Christmas.
Special Agent Rich Novelli was thankful for the assistance saying, “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. Thankfully none of us gave up and I think we gave a great Christmas present to her family.”
Owens had disappeared and remained hidden of her own free will. Her motive for running away remains confidential as she and her family work to rebuild their relationship. In a news release, the local Sheriff’s office said “Sheriff Ingram and the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office are extremely grateful to all of those who submitted tips and leads to detectives that ultimately led to finding Rachel.”