Last Thursday was supposed to be 16-year-old Marley McKenna Spindler’s first day of school. The South Carolina teen stopped for breakfast at a local Chick-fil-A, then told friends she was going to pick up a 22-year-old pal named Jeremy before heading to school. Five days later, she still hasn’t been heard from.
“One minute we’re managing and the next it all falls into chaos,” Shelley Long, McKenna’s aunt, told Dateline. “We can’t rule out that she was abducted, but we also have to face that maybe she ran away. We just don’t know.”
McKenna was last heard from at 8:42 a.m. on Thursday, when she texted friends that she thought someone was following her.
“They all thought she was joking and didn’t think that much of it,” said Long. “They are also teenagers and didn’t want to tattle on their friend if she was cutting school. They didn’t think anything bad had happened. But now we’re all scared.”
Later that day, McKenna missed a routine check-in call with her dad, Jay Spindler. So Jay called her cell, which was answered by a clerk at the Ocean Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The clerk told the anxious dad that the phone had been found in the hotel parking lot earlier that day. That’s when McKenna’s family really started to worry. They called the police.
Officials located Jeremy, whom they have cleared of any involvement, according to Dateline. They do not suspect any foul play at this time, with Lieutenant Raul Denis of the Horry County Police Department telling NBC News that a search of McKenna’s cell showed that “she left alone and not under duress or coercion.”
But even if McKenna left of her own accord, her family wants to know that she is safe. “She’s 16, she’s very young, and maybe she didn’t intend to get in a bad situation but may find herself in one now,” said Long. “If you see this, we don’t care what you’ve done, and you aren’t in trouble. We just want you home safe.”
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Tara Fowler