Rochester police are investigating after they say a five-year-old girl and her mother have gone missing. Police say they may have boarded a plane headed for California. Officers say they don't believe the child is at-risk and haven't issued an Amber Alert.
It is a massive sigh of relief for a family desperate for answers in the search for a missing 5-year-old girl.
Investigators said they found Lily Ortiz safe in San Diego more than two thousand miles from her home in Rochester.
Her mother, Renee Stong, is in custody. Lily's grandmother Inez Tores booked a flight out of Rochester as soon as she could.
Her grandmother got in contact with a social worker Saturday afternoon. They told her she needed to grab her documents proving that she has custody so she can go get her granddaughter.
“The social worker out there called me and said he's ready to release her,” Tores said. “I said I’m ready to go.”
“A police officer came to my house at about one in the morning to break the news,” Lily’s grandmother Inez Tores said. “It was the best news and I got a couple of hours of sleep after that because I wasn’t able to sleep but I’m happy.”
Family members say Stong took her off a bus Wednesday afternoon then drove to the airport to board a flight. But an amber alert was not issued.
RPD said it reached out to the amber alert coordinator with state police but the case did not meet the right criteria.
However state police said that is not what happened. The agency said it reached out to RPD to help and at no time was an amber alert requested.
Lily's grandmother said it is also still not clear why the girl and her mother ended up in California.
“I don't know why she chose there,” Tores added. “I don't want to say no more but I wish the best for her [Stong].”
She also has a message for those who helped solve this case
“Thank you so much I was so surprised,” Tores said. “Thank you so much to everyone that helped out.”
Police said they found Lily and her mother at a late Friday night after getting a tip from a clerk who recognized Stong from a flyer.
Stong was taken into custody and booked at a detention center in San Diego. She does not have custodial rights over Lily and is awaiting extradition to Rochester.
Tores said she plans to immediately go get the 5-year-old and spend some time with her when she lands in California. They plan to bring Lily back home Sunday.
•••PREVIOUS REPORTRochester police are investigating after they say a five-year-old girl and her mother have gone missing.
According to police, five-year-old Leilani Ortiz was picked up by her mother Rene Stong Wednesday afternoon from school. But, the pair never returned home. At that point, the family called police around 4 p.m.
Officers say an investigation, with help from the family, found that Stong and the girl had been taken to Greater Rochester International Airport and left the state. Police believe they are both in Southern California at this time.
Officers say they don't believe the child is at-risk and haven't issued an Amber Alert.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911.