Missing teenager epidemic

by MACKENZIE MATIKONIS Staff Writer

There have been missing teenagers all over New Jersey recently, specifically the past two months.

The main cause for their disappearances have been voluntarily running away, but some have just vanished without a trace.

Brittany Snodgrass, 13, went missing from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst on May 8, 2013. She had last been seen around 3:00 p.m. after getting off her school bus within the base.

Snodgrass was found safe the next day around 11:00 a.m. near the Red Lions Barracks State Police station in Southampton Township. She was discovered when a driver reported a young girl walking along Route 206.

On March 24, 16-year-old Elizabeth Chesner from Franklin Borough went missing. She had spent the afternoon with her boyfriend Robert Paige, 18, who lives in Bloomfield. Later, he dropped her off to hang out with some friends, and then Chesner never returned home.

She was seen the next day in Hamburg, on Route 23. On the 26, Chesner was driven to Paige’s house in Bloomfield, where she spoke to him before leaving.

Chesner was not seen again until she was found a week later, on April 2. She had voluntarily been staying with her boyfriend at his house. She destroyed her phone so she could not be tracked, proving she did not want to be found.

Paige was charged with obstruction of a police investigation, for lying to police about Chesner’s location. He was not suspected of abducting her or holding her against her will.

“It’s terrible when people run away voluntarily, especially when there’s people who’ve been abducted or killed,” said sophomore Jennifer Rodriquez.

Eighteen-year-old Riley Branstrom went missing on May 9, after last being seen by Hightstown High School where he was a graduate.

Police tracked his phone to Freehold, and then near the Princeton Junction Train Station.

On May 10, the West Windsor teen’s belongings were found along the railroad tracks, and a body was found on the tracks near the train station. It was identified as Branstrom.

Branstrom’s truck was found in the parking lot of the station.

The College of New Jersey student Paige Aiello went missing on April 9. She was last seen by her father at their home in Hillborough. When Aiello’s mother arrived home, she and the family’s car was gone.

Later that day, the car was found in New Brunswick near the New Jersey Transit train station. Aiello’s purse, cell phone, and car keys were found on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. There was video footage of her walking from Penn Station toward the bridge.

Aiello’s family and friends desparately searched for her for a month, with no luck. Aiello’s body was finally found in the Hudson River on May 8, south of the George Washington Bridge.

Her graduation was a week after her disappearance.

“I would be devastated if someone I knew went missing. It would be worse if they weren’t safe,” said sophomore Michelle Chow.

What would you do if your friend or family member went missing?

#MackenzieMatikonis #police #Teens #disappearance #missing #NewJersey

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