Marion County teen missing from youth ranch

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 9:55 PM EST
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CITRA, Fla. (WCJB) - The Heart of Florida Youth Ranch is located in Citra. They’re a home for children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected, as well as those whose parents or legal guardians who have died.

Some children at the home are able to have cell phones.

“Challenge for us as well as every parent in America is the content that’s on the cell phones and what happens when a child goes on a cell because they’re predators out there who have harm in mind,” said executive director John Sweet.

Fourteen-year-old Aliyah Williams had a phone and Sweet said an older man got in contact with her and she was last seen at the ranch early Monday morning.

“We found out about it afterwards that she had talked to some of the other residents about that she had met an older man and was going to go with him and promised to be back tonight but then we discovered what have happened.”

According to Marion County Sheriff’s deputies they believe she is heading south towards Orlando with the man in an unknown vehicle.

“Apparently she had been groomed by someone to run with him and that transpired she put that plan into motion last night,” said Sweet.

Sweet is hoping someone has information that can help find her.

“The ranch is here to be a step to a family we’re not here for permanency we’re here to help a child so they can go to a family.”

Investigators said she was last seen wearing a black hoodie, black shorts and red, white and black shoes. She also has red and black hair with multiple nose rings.

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