Missing Camas teen Angelic “Anji” Dean was found safe by police Wednesday afternoon at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon. The 17-year-old had been missing since she left her home near Southeast 192nd Avenue on June 23.
Investigators said they received about 150 phone tips about the girl’s whereabouts, and numerous tips through social media. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit was able to locate Dean at the mall in Clackamas County, interview her and reunite her with her family, according to a news release from the agency.
“This is an active investigation that includes the crime of human trafficking,” Sgt. Kevin Allais said in the new release.
Dean’s mother, Lynda Jorgensen, spoke with reporters Wednesday at the family’s home in Camas shortly after getting the call from Detective Scott Kirgiss that her daughter had been found.
“We’re very, very thankful that she’s OK,” Jorgensen said.
Michelle Bart, president of the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation, said that heavy media attention led to Dean being found. After the story was first reported in The Columbian and on KGW NewsChannel 8, the story received national media attention, and her case also was publicized by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“Today’s a good day. Today’s a great day,” Bart said as she put her arm around Jorgensen. “This doesn’t happen too often. (The coalition) has been to more funerals than happy times like today.”
Before Dean vanished, she wrote a chilling message in her journal: “If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead.” It was those words, Bart said, that drew the public’s attention to her case. As more people heard about Dean’s story, more and more tips came in to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
The agency did not release details about where Dean was found. Major crimes detectives continue looking into why Dean left. She disappeared without her prescription glasses, makeup or extra clothes.
The family feared that Dean may have been lured into sex trafficking through threats. Jorgensen said she hopes the people involved in her daughter’s disappearance are held accountable.
“The first night I called her in as missing I was scared to death,” Jorgensen said. “The last few weeks have been horrible … It’s not natural to feel hopeless and helpless.”
Jorgensen said that this could happen to any parent’s kid. She described Dean as actively involved in cheer, American Sign Language and the Clark County Explorer Program.
“She’s not any different than any other teenage girl,” Jorgensen said.
With her daughter safe, Jorgensen said the family plans to take it day by day and ensure she gets the help she needs.
The Vancouver Police Department and the FBI assisted in the search for Dean, according to the sheriff’s office.
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