Police: Missing girl found after nine years

NEWARK, Ohio (AP) — A girl reported missing in California nine years ago
has been found in central Ohio, living under an assumed name with her
mother, authorities said.

Licking County prosecutors said a woman recognized the girl’s picture
from the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children and called sheriff’s deputies.

She was found Friday in nearby Johnstown, about 20 miles northeast of
Columbus, authorities said.

The girl, Vanesa Brancheau, and her mother, Sheri Lyn Taylor, were
reported missing in 1995 from the Los Angeles community of Woodland
Hills, the Licking County sheriff’s office said in a news release.

The girl, 5 years old when she was reported missing, is now 13 and
attending Southwest Licking Schools under the name Ariel Rose Wiggins,
the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s Capt. Rod Mitchell said Taylor indicated that she and her
husband had been fighting for custody of the girl at the time of the
disappearance.

“The mom claims that she couldn’t, at the time of the custody battle,
couldn’t afford attorney fees and simply was running from him,” Mitchell
told Columbus television station WCMH.

No one was available to answer questions at the sheriff’s office on
Wednesday night. A Los Angeles police spokesman said he had no immediate
information on the case.

Taylor could not be reached for comment. There was no listing for her in
Johnstown.

The girl was placed in foster care Tuesday after a hearing in Licking
County Juvenile Court.

No charges have been filed against the mother, but authorities are
investigating.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press

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