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Home  >  Topics  >  Fugitive

April 15, 2005
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Police Search for Florida Teen; Family Friend with Criminal Record Questioned

The Associated Press

RUSKIN, Fla. - Authorities questioned a convicted sex offender, and more than 200 people joined the search for a 13-year-old girl who disappeared over the weekend from her family's mobile home.

Sarah Michelle Lunde has a troubled past and has run away before, Hillsborough County Sheriff's David Gee said. But she usually returns after a few hours, and officials don't believe this is "a typical runaway," he said.

Authorities also are continuing to question a known sex offender who was a friend of Sarah's mother, Gee said. The 36-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night in connection with an unrelated incident in nearby Apollo Beach. Authorities say he threatened another man with a screwdriver.

"Obviously, he has our attention," Gee said, declining to talk about the details of the investigation.

Sarah went on a trip with a church youth group Saturday and returned home that night. Her 17-year-old brother saw her at about 9 p.m. Saturday and later went out with friends. When he returned home about 4 a.m. Sunday, the front door was open and Sarah was gone.

Her mother, thinking her daughter was at a friend's house, didn't report her missing until Monday.

As part of the investigation, authorities contacted 23 of the 24 registered sex offenders who live in the region, Gee said. The remaining one was believed to be out of the area.

The sheriff's office also interviewed the girl's father, who lives in Zephyrhills. He is not considered a suspect, Gee said.

Ruskin is about 100 miles south of Homosassa, where a three-week search for a missing 9-year-old, Jessica Lunsford, ended with the discovery of her body last month. A registered sex offender who stayed at a home near hers has been charged with her slaying.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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