The FBI has joined in the search for a missing Florida teenager from Orlando, who vanished while on a family vacation in Big Lake in Skagit County, Washington. Katelynn Barlow, 14 years old, was staying in a family cabin at Big Lake when she was last seen by family members.
According to family members, Barlow was last seen at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, July 17, when she went to use the restroom and never came back. Katelynn was last seen wearing her pajamas and had no shoes on, according to KIRO 7.
Katelynn’s mobile phone was found approximately 45 minutes away alongside I-5, at a Smokey Point rest stop, 32 miles from where she was staying. The cell was turned over to authorities. No other evidence of Barlow was found.
The FBI and local authorities did not issue an AMBER alert for Barlow’s disappearance, since there was no evidence or information on a suspect or a suspect vehicle. AMBER alerts are only issued in child abduction cases that involve a car or motor vehicle, and are used by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to notify the public through radio, television, and road signs.
Katelynn Barlow’s family believes that she was kidnapped. Jeff O’Connor, Katelyn’s uncle, said, ” she was excited to take her first trip from Brevard County, Florida, to Big Lake. She wasn’t prepared to run away. Someone has come and taken a close family member from us and my niece is out there and I want her to please pick up the phone and call me,” via Q13 Fox.
Katelyn’s mother Jessica Barlow and stepfather Kevin O’Connor spoke with WFTV 9, from Florida.“We’re just absolutely desperate to find her. She was super excited, she was finally old enough to go do this family trip. It’s unlike her to wander off. “That’s what scares us the most. There’s no inclination that she would have done this on her own,” Jessica Barlow said.
O’Connor added, “She never leaves without her phone. She’s with it 24/7. She was staying on the lake with her family for three weeks.”
Big Lake, Washington, is a small town in Washington State and is primarily a residential area. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are 1,835 residents that live at Big Lake and primarily has residential homes. Big Lake is also popular for camping, boating, and fishing.
The FBI said they’re assisting the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office with their FBI Child Abduction Rapid Development Team, which has more resources than a local agency to track down missing children. Right now, the FBI is still calling her an endangered missing person. The FBI is not labeling this an abduction case at this time, according to Q13 Fox.
The FBI Child Abduction Rapid Development Team was created in 2006. The team consists of specially trained FBI agents who work on non-family child abductions, ransom child abductions, and mysterious disappearances of children across the United States and internationally. The team has helped 108 victims since it was created. Federal law requires that a missing child is entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center.
According to the Missing & Endangered Children Alerts for Washington, there have been 18 reported child disappearances in Washington State this year.
UPDATE: Katelynn Barlow was found Thursday in Federal Way and was found healthy and unharmed, but will be assessed further,” FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich said. No arrests have been made.
[Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]