On May 23, 2016, then-16-year-old Hailey Burns disappeared without a trace from her family’s North Carolina home. Shortly after she vanished, her parents discovered a diary entry that indicated that she’d met an unidentified man online and intended to secretly meet up with him. For over a year, Hailey Burns’ family, loved ones and community searched desperately for the teen, who suffers from a form of autism, but to no avail.
On Saturday, however, everything change. Police and FBI agents raided the Duluth, Georgia home of 31-year-old Michael Wysolovski, finding Hailey alive and in fairly good condition. She has since been reunited with her parents
On Monday, Michael Wysolovski made his first court appearance, where he was charged with a litany of state-level crimes in connection with the disappearance of now-17-year-old Hailey Burns. Included among those charges are aggravated sodomy, interference with custody, cruelty to children deprivation in the first degree, and false imprisonment. While investigators aren’t saying precisely how Wysolovski got his hands on Burns, they accuse the suspect of holding the teen captive in his home near Seneca Trail in Duluth for over a year.
Authorities are alleging that Wysolovski and Hailey Burns met online at some point, and subsequently the teen “somehow ended up in his control.”
Michael Wysolovski did have some semblance of a support system in the courtroom Monday when he appeared before the judge for the first time in connection with the disappearance and captivity of Hailey Burns. Reportedly, one man and three women appeared in the courtroom on the suspect’s behalf. However, as WSTV 2 reports, none would identify themselves as relatives or otherwise.
Ultimately, the sole suspect in the disappearance of Hailey Burns was denied bail.
According to investigators, they were able to locate Hailey after over a year because of efforts the teen took to be rescued from her alleged imprisonment. Law enforcement claims that Burns reached out online to a woman in Romania, telling her that she was being held against her will and sending her photographs of the house where she was being kept. Within five hours of receiving the tip themselves, investigators raided the residence, which belonged to Michael Wysolovski.
Hailey Burns’ parents aren’t saying much about their daughter’s ordeal, citing the ongoing investigation. However, they have confirmed that they believe that Hailey was lured away from home by an other man she met online. They have also lamented the significant changes, both physical and psychological, that they say their daughter has undergone in the last year.
“There are changes in my daughter. She is not the same person that left and that is the hardest part of this.”
Hailey’s parents say that the teen has lost at least 15 pounds since they discovered her disappearance last May.
“This is our child, our baby. We would, we would never hurt her and the idea that someone did is really, really hard.”
Despite their struggle to come to terms with the ordeal that Hailey endured for the last year, her parents are calling her rescue and safe return nothing less than a miracle. They are also hopeful that Hailey Burns’ story gives the loved ones of other missing persons the inspiration to never give up – no matter how much time has gone by.
“Families need to know don’t give up no matter how much time passes. There is hope that you just have to keep believing that the one lead will come.”
[Featured Image by Federal Bureau of Investigations]