Girl’s return ends a yearlong search

By Sam Wood
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Mar. 22, 2005

A Cherry Hill teenager who had been missing for more than a year has been
reunited with her family, police said yesterday.

Zhen Li, 16, known to friends as Jenny Lee, was a ninth grader at Cherry
Hill High School East when she left for school on Feb. 18, 2004, and
disappeared.

Li had been playing hooky for three weeks before her disappearance,
police said, and investigators suspected she had run away because she
feared the wrath of her parents once they found out.

Police in Cherry Hill and Philadelphia scoured the region for Li for 13
months and investigated several reported sightings in New York City and
area restaurants.

On Friday, Li called her father and told him that she was in Chicago and
wanted to come home, said Lt. William J. Kushina, spokesman for the
Cherry Hill police. She returned Saturday, police said.

“She’s been all over the place during the last year,” Kushina said,
“Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, and most recently Ohio, where she
spent the last six months.”

Li, who struggled with English, supported herself by working at Chinese
restaurants, Kushina said.

She told police that she had found a plea for her return on a Web site
run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The family moved to Philadelphia from China in 1996. Li had been living
with her aunt and grandmother in Cherry Hill, where her parents, who run
a takeout restaurant in West Philadelphia, had sent her to attend better
schools, Kushina said.

Kushina said Li would now most likely remain with her parents in
Philadelphia.

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