Amber Alert issued for missing Michigan girl
SACRAMENTO, California (CNN) -- The California Highway Patrol on Thursday issued an Amber Alert for a missing Michigan teenager who was last seen about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento with a convicted murderer who may have abducted her.
Police had declined to issue the alert earlier for Lindsey Ryan, 14, saying there was no evidence the girl was being held against her will.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Kohler did not say what prompted the alert. Under such an alert for a missing child, local law enforcement and broadcasters team up to issue immediate emergency bulletins to state agencies, posting updates on electronic highway signs and distributing information through the news media.
Lindsey disappeared late Friday or early Saturday from her home in Jones, Michigan. Cash and firearms also were missing, and a computer's hard drive had been erased, an aunt said.
Two friends told the family that Lindsey had been carrying on an e-mail relationship with a man the family had met at church, she said.
"He's a creepy dude. He just looks icky," Carol Ryan, the girl's mother, told CNN. "And we did distance ourselves. We were only cordial. We didn't have him over. We didn't allow contact."
The man, Terry Drake, 56, pleaded guilty to the 1977 kidnapping and murder of Linda Kearschner. He was released from prison in 1993.
In that case, Kearschner was abducted from her home, and a gun in her home also was taken. It would be the same gun Drake used to kill her.
"He'll do it again and again and again, as long as there is breath in his lungs," the victim's widower, Michael Kearschner, told CNN.
Michael Kearschner said he and his wife met Drake at church and befriended him. He said Drake once told him that "the easiest avenue of acceptance and finding a female companion is 'I'm born again.' "
Recent sightings of pair
Witnesses have reported seeing Lindsey and Drake traveling west on Interstate 80 in Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.
A maintenance man said he saw the pair Wednesday at a motel in Grass Valley, California, about 90 miles northeast of Sacramento, according to Cass County, Michigan, Sheriff Joe Underwood. The sheriff said the man recognized the two from television.
Underwood said the motel's records confirmed the identities.
"She's alive. That's great, and that means someone's watching," said Carol Ryan.
The witness said that the teenager's blond hair apparently had been dyed black.
"Time is running," said Lindsey's father, Patrick Ryan, urging people to keep contacting the police. "We need information now -- the sooner the better. Information is critical."
The Ryans pleaded for the safe return of their daughter.
"Be safe, Lindsey," said the girl's mother. "Be smart. We love you. We're praying for you. Your friends are here with us."
The Ryans discovered their daughter was missing early Saturday when her mother went to wake her and found her bedroom door locked. The girl's father broke down the door, and the parents discovered Lindsey was gone -- apparently exiting the home from a bedroom window.
Authorities said six firearms, ammunition and $4,000 were taken from the home. It was not clear if Lindsey had been abducted or had gone voluntarily.
The Ryans said they had no idea the two had been messaging each other over the Internet, but they said they knew Drake was a convicted felon.
Lindsey and Drake are believed to be traveling in a white 1995 Dodge Dakota extended cab pickup with an Indiana license plate.
Lindsey, who is 5 feet tall with braces, was last seen wearing a black coat with white writing on it.
Drake, of Middlebury, Indiana, was last seen wearing a tricolor coat with blocks of white, orange and black. Police described him as 6 feet, 2 inches with tattoos on his neck, forearms and other parts of his body.
CNN Chicago Bureau Chief Jeff Flock contributed to this report.