A 14-year-old Turlock girl went missing June 30 and was found the same evening, but local media outlets were not notified of the alert nor of her recovery, and many Turlockers also went uninformed.
The girl’s missing status was not widely broadcast June 30, as according to the Turlock Police Department, an AMBER Alert was not filed because it did not meet the criteria, namely, the girl was considered a runaway.
The girl’s mother, Heather Breeding, believed her daughter’s missing case was in fact an AMBER Alert, and was confused by some other aspects of the event — like why she wasn’t contacted by the school as her husband was. However her father, Donald Breeding, understood that an AMBER Alert was not filed, and attributed it to the fact that from the time the decision was made to file an alert, their daughter was found shortly after.
June 30, the 14-year-old girl went to Pitman High School to attend her summer classes. The girl is a student of Turlock Junior High School, where she is enrolled in Severely Emotionally Disturbed classes. Heather Breeding explained that her daughter attends school over summer so that she can remain in the SED classes, but that Monday morning, after asking to visit the restroom, did not return to class.
Instead, the girl left the Pitman High School campus and walked over to Curt Andre Park to meet with a 20-year-old Caucasian male, according to the Breedings. The girl’s father, Donald Breeding, explained that as she left the campus, a school official tried to grab at the girl’s backpack causing her cell phone to fall out and preventing contact between her and her parents.
“She was just being a typical 14-year-old girl who, you know, wanted to meet up with a boy,” said Donald Breeding.
As Donald sees it, his daughter’s naivete led to her decision to meet up with the 20-year-old man, as she saw it as simply ditching school to meet a boy. He also explained that she compared it to adult relationships she sees where there is a similar age difference, but he reminded her that’s only okay when both people are adults– which is sometimes a difficult thing for teens to understand.
From the park, the two fled on foot. According to Heather Breeding, text messages between their 14-year-old daughter and the 20-year-old male were later found on the girl’s phone.
The text messages included references to solicitation of drugs and sex, according to the girl’s mother, which is something Heather Breeding would have never expected from her daughter. The phone is now in custody of the Turlock Police Department for an ongoing investigation, according to the Breedings.
According to Heather Breeding, her daughter went missing at approximately 9 a.m. when Pitman High School contacted the girl’s father. Heather Breeding was not made aware of her daughter’s missing status until three hours later, she said, when a neighbor alerted her that police were trying to contact her and that it was urgent. Heather Breeding then went to the Turlock Police Department where she was told her daughter was missing.
Pitman High School was not available for comment on the occurrence.
Heather and Donald Breeding went around to local businesses near where their daughter had last been seen after her tracks were lost in an almond orchard due to irrigating. At the businesses, the Breedings asked after their missing daughter and handed out flyers with their personal contact information as well as a description of their daughter and school photo. Grizzly Rock Cafe, Best Western Hotel, and AMPM all took flyers, as did Woods Furniture who remained concerned and requested TurlockCityNews.com look into the status of the missing girl.
The girl was found wandering around the Crowell Elementary School parking lot the evening of June 30. She spoke with the Turlock Police Department the night of the incident after being found.
Donald Breeding explained that since then, he has spoken with his daughter about why the incident was a big deal, and why it’s not the same as two adults with an age difference.
“This is different,” Donald said he explained to his daughter. “He is now considered an adult. When you turn 18 you’re an adult, but you’re still a minor and that is a big difference.”
Heather Breeding had similar concerns with her 14-year-old daughter meeting an adult man.
“At the time we didn’t know but we know now that she had plans to hook up with this 20-year-old carnival worker that was in town,” said Heather Breeding. “They’ve had problems with this area I guess when he comes to town for the carnival doing this type of stuff. He’s 20. What are you doing with a 14-year-old?”
Heather Breeding confirmed that by “carnival” she was referring to the Stanislaus County Fair, but the Turlock Police Department could not confirm the name of the man involved or his activity.
As for lessons learned, Donald Breedingfeels that his daughter now understands why what she did was not okay.
“We are trying to let her be aware that there are predators out there and their sole purpose is to attract nice, young girls who are innocent and not aware of things,” said Donald Breeding.
And of course, the family is just glad to have their daughter back safe.
“It’s something I never ever want to go through again,” said Heather Breeding. “Nobody wants to not know what’s happened to their child.”
Turlock Police Department confirmed that the case was not filed as an AMBER Alert.
“It put our family through a lot of grief and the not knowing,” said Heather Breeding. “We’re just so thankful that she was found.”
Heather Breeding is daughter of the late Martin Yerby, a former Turlock City Councilmember.