Police: 'Missing' Peconic teen Ashley Murray returns
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The Peconic teen whose disappearance on Feb. 25 sparked a regionwide search voluntarily returned to Southold Friday afternoon and is "in good health," town police Chief Martin Flatley said.
Ashley Murray, last seen 11 days ago leaving home to catch a bus to Southold High School, walked into police headquarters about 3:15 p.m. escorted by an unidentified friend, Flatley said.
She was taken to a regional hospital for evaluation after investigators interviewed her for about an hour, Flatley said.
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"We're very relieved that she's here and . . . that she's healthy," Flatley said. "Just knowing that she's back and OK is a huge weight off our shoulders, and everybody feels gratified here."
Flatley declined to discuss details of what Murray told police, but said, "I don't think she was ever far away from the east end of Long Island.
Charlotte Murray, Ashley's mother, told Newsday her daughter ran away from home after penning a suicide note.
"I said 'Oh, my God' and almost dropped my coffee when I got the call she came back," the relieved mother said. "This feels like Christmas Eve."
She said she knows her daughter is "upset," adding that they had not spoken since her return to Southold.
"I want to tell her she's a good girl," Murray said. "I know she's angry and confused."
Police discovered a new Facebook page set up under Ashley's name on Thursday. Her mother posted a note to her daughter on the page that same day telling her she loved her, and asking her to let her know she was safe.
"I'd like to think she read my letter and she decided to come back," Charlotte Murray said. "I was so full of hope she'd come back."
Police issued a missing-person alert for the teen two days after she disappeared. Marine units searched for her every day along coastlines, and canine and aviation teams also scoured the area for her.
Investigators interviewed scores of friends, relatives, acquaintances and callers with tips, Flatley said, after learning that Murray may have left her home "with intentions of harming herself."
Investigators never suspected foul play, he said.
Local police were joined in the investigation by the FBI, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, New York State Police, Suffolk County police and Shelter Island Town police.