- Cara Cox was 8 years old when she and her father vanished from Deltona, Florida, in 2009
- Cara was listed as missing; her father, Aaron Cox, was charged with child custody interference
- For years, there were "no viable leads" in the case, but a break came last week, police say
- On Friday, U.S. authorities arrested Cox and recovered Cara in a remote area in Mexico
Cara Cox was just 8 years old when she was taken by her father after a weekend visit, authorities say.
It took more than four years for her to return to central Florida.
Cara was in the legal custody of her mother, Jodie Borchert, when she vanished in August 2009.
"The arrangement was that he would drop the child off at a day care, and then she would go to day care and pick the child up," said Brandon Haught, a public information officer for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
Aaron Cox never dropped Cara off at day care. They both vanished from Deltona.
A missing persons report was filed for Cara, and an arrest warrant was issued for Cox, who was charged with interference with child custody, the Sheriff's Office said.
For nearly four years, the Sheriff's Office said, there were "no viable leads" in the case. But deputies remained hopeful that Cara would be found.
On Mother's Day of this year, Borchert posted to her Facebook page that she missed her daughter "more than words could say." She also asked Facebook friends to share a photo of how Cara could look now, at age 12.
A break in the case came the next day, May 12, when a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led authorities to a remote area of Hidalgo state in Mexico, two hours outside Mexico City, the Sheriff's Office said.
On Friday morning, U.S. authorities went to the remote area, arrested Cox and recovered Cara. The father and daughter were almost, 1,700 miles from Cara's home in Deltona. Investigators say they were living under aliases and had no known ties to the area.
After more than four years, the wait was finally over.
Cara was reunited with her mother Saturday at Miami International Airport with a "great big smile" on her face, Haught told CNN affiliate WESH.
Aaron Cox is under arrest in the Dade County Jail, WESH reported. He is waiting to be brought back to Volusia County on the interference with child custody charge.
He is expected to be transferred by June 3 and is being held without bail, Volusia County officials said.
The U.S. Marshals Service will meet with the U.S. Attorney's Office to see what federal charges, if any, could be filed.
WESH reports that Cara and Borchert have been celebrating in private since she came back to Deltona.