HIGHLAND — Police investigating the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl may be elevating her status to an endangered missing person.
Although that won't necessarily change the way the investigation into what happened to Indica Huddleston is handled, police hope the new label will draw more attention from the public.
"The fact that she's been gone now for six days, hasn't contacted anybody, you know, relatives or friends that we are aware of … we are looking at maybe elevating this more from a runaway to a missing child," said Lone Peak police detective Dave Ventrano.
Her family, however, is growing increasingly concerned that Indica may be with a dangerous person.
Indica was last seen about 5 p.m. on Aug. 16. Her family found a note indicating that she had run away. But they also believe there is strong evidence to suggest she may have taken off with — or been lured away by — an older man she met on Facebook.
Because there was no evidence that an abduction had taken place, police could not issue an Amber Alert. But Ventrano said the public should not interpret that to mean detectives aren't doing anything or are not taking the case seriously.
"There's a lot to it. We have to go through phone records. We have to go through her Facebook account. We have to go through other social media. We have to follow up with leads. All this takes time and effort," Ventrano said.
"It's not like, 'She's a runaway, and we're not going to do anything.' No, we've been working on it. I've been losing sleep over it. Personally, since I came to work Monday, this has (had) my full-time attention," he said.
But as of Thursday, there had been no trace of Indica, Ventrano said, including through cellphone or social media use.
"There is absolutely nothing to go on right now," he said.
Indica's mother, Andrea Huddleston, said her family remains hopeful, even though it's like "looking for a needle in a haystack."
"I can't believe I'm finding myself in this situation. It's very hard to believe. It's so surreal," she said. "And the only way I'm getting myself through every minute is just believing there's some purpose that's greater than me and greater than Indica, and (there's a) greater good that we can do and something we can (do to) make a difference."
Indica has never run away before, her mother said. Staying away from home for a night is something Andrea Huddleston said she wouldn't put past her daughter. But after she didn't return the next morning, "I knew I was in an emergency," she said.
"I know my daughter. She does not run away," she said.
The family believes police are doing the best they can right now and said they understand that they deal with many runaway cases. But a parent has a different kind of urgency to find a loved one than police, Huddleston said.
There's a lot to it. We have to go through phone records. We have to go through her Facebook account. We have to go through other social media. We have to follow up with leads. All this takes time and effort.
–Dave Ventrano, Lone Peak Police
"This is my child. I wish the National Guard was looking for her. Yeah, I'm going to do everything I can (to look for her). I'm not waiting for anyone," she said.
Indica's family has been very active in posting information about the case on Facebook. They have been open to interviews from the media and are planning on issuing their own video on Indica's story. They want to do everything they can to keep her face alive in the public. They have also hired several private detectives to track down leads.
Ventrano said he encourages the family to keep doing what it is doing on social media.
"I think it's great. I think we've had more tips come in," he said. "The more people that see this and the more people that put it out and more exposure it gets, someone is eventually going to see her and know where she's at."
Ventrano said Indica is listed on NCIC, meaning if any officer across the country comes across her, information on their national database will come up during a background check that she's missing.
Indica is about 5 feet 3 inches tall and 130 pounds. She has long, dark brown hair and olive skin. Anyone with information about her should call their local police department.