A private investigator has suggested that the reunion between a high-functioning autistic teen who went missing from her Arizona home for almost four years and her mother, may not have gone as smoothly as the family would have liked.
Alicia Navarro, 14, vanished from her Glendale home in 2019 sparking a massive manhunt involving the FBI.
Mother, Jessica Nunez, has stated how she and her daughter, Alicia Navarro, 19, had been planning to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas together
In July, Alicia Navarro walked into a Montana police department and identified herself as a missing person. She is pictured as a 14-year-old – although she is now 19
Trent Steele, co-founder of the Florida-based nonprofit Anti-Predator Project and the family’s primary spokesperson, has cast doubt on whether the mother and daughter had even yet shared a reunion – despite Alicia being found four months ago.
‘We can’t even comment or confirm that they’ve [Alicia and her mother] been reunited at this point,’ Steele told The Sun.
‘I know there are some reports out there circulating, that she’s [Alicia] been reunited, they said they spoke with a family spokesperson. I’m handling all the media on behalf of the family, so I’m not sure who they spoke with.’
Steele refused to be drawn on the exact living arrangement of family members.
‘The family will come out and talk about all of that when they’re ready. They’ve made it pretty clear that they just don’t want any more media attention, they don’t want to comment on it. There may come a time when they do, but right now, they just want some privacy.’
Private investigator Trent Steele cast doubt on whether the mother and daughter had yet shared a reunion
Nunez appeared far from content as she told of how a planned news conference with her daughter, pictured, had been scrapped – and that she was closing down the Facebook page set up to help find Alicia
In a cryptic video message on Wednesday, Nunez appeared far from content as she told of how a planned news conference with her daughter had been suddenly scrapped – and that she was closing down the Facebook page set up to help find daughter, Alicia.
The family had been scheduled to hold a press conference in Chicago when it was abruptly cancelled.
Nunez appeared to be reading from a carefully prepared script with her voice faltering several times.
‘I know there was a press conference scheduled for this time, but circumstances have changed and I have decided to release this video statement instead,’ she said hesitating.
‘This has been a very difficult journey but it has a happy ending and today my journey is complete again.
‘The holidays in our home this year will be very special for money reasons,’ Nunez went on before taking a breath and sighing, continuing with her statement.
‘But none of it would have been possible without the support my family and I received from all of you.’
When asked about the nature of the video, Steele was equally cryptic.
‘Everyone can kind of infer what they want to from that. It can mean a lot of things – it can mean that they’re together; it can mean they’ve spoken on the phone, or it can mean they’re chatted online.
‘It can mean a lot of different things. We’re being very vague on that for a reason.’
Earlier in the week, a representative for the family confirmed the teen has been given medical treatment, and said there would be ‘challenges’ ahead as she has not attended school since her disappearance.
It was believed that Alicia Navarro had been reunited with her mom after she vanished from her Arizona home in 2019 at the age of 14 – but that may now not be the case
Earlier in the week it had been suggested that mother Jessica Nunez and her formerly missing daughter Navarro would be spending Christmas and Thanksgiving together – but that may no longer be true
Steele’s account that mother and daughter may not yet have reunited is in conflict to that of the Glendale Police Department.
Lt. Scott Waite said Navarro had an ’emotionally overwhelming’ reunion with her mom and was ‘very apologetic (as) to what she has put her mother through.’
Nunez’s nightmare ordeal began when her daughter disappeared from the family home on September 15, 2019 just a week before her 15th birthday.
She left a note for her parents which said: ‘I ran away. I will be back, I swear. I’m sorry.’
Despite a multi-agency search and thousands of tip offs, she eluded authorities for more than four years.
But in July she strolled into a Maricopa County police station asking to be removed from the missing persons list so she could reapply for a driving license.
Soon after investigators ascertained that she had been living in on Montana’s Fort Belknap Reservation with her boyfriend Edmund Davis, 36.
Davis has since been charged with sexual abuse of children over material found on his cellphone which he tried to hide in a bin after police raided his Montana home.
Her mother raised concerns that Navarro, who was diagnosed as high-functioning on the autism spectrum, may have been lured away by someone she met online when she disappeared four years earlier.
Edmund Davis, 36, is being held on a $1 million bond at Hill County Detention Center charged with two counts of child sex abuse
Investigators from the police department, FBI and US Marshals Office have been trying to determine what happened to Navarro after her disappearance. Police said Navarro told them that she hadn’t been harmed.
Over the years, Nunez partnered with various private investigative services, put up billboards, appeared on television programs and used social media in her efforts to find her daughter.
She said he daughter’s reappearance is proof ‘miracles do exist’ as she urged others not to give up hope as she announced she would be closing down the page used to appeal for information on her daughter’s whereabouts.
In statement on Facebook she added: ‘My family is complete now. I thank everyone for all the concerns and support, God is a miracle worker.’
The day before she vanished the teen asked her mom if she could stay off school.
Nunez agreed and the duo then spent a pleasant day visiting a chocolate factory.
But that night, Navarro asked her mother what time she was going to bed, and slipped out of the house when she was asleep.
I’m more than 90 percent sure that my daughter met this person online,’ she claimed at the time.
She added her daughter was a pretty cautious person, so it would have been unusual for her to be easily lured.
‘Knowing the way my daughter’s personality is, I don’t think that she would have fallen for that,’ Nunez said. ‘This person probably took a while to be able to gain [her] trust.’