At 1:30 pm today, Tuesday, October 2, 2007, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd announced that the missing Polk County teen had been found in DeFuniak Springs, Florida. She is safe and her family is traveling to the DeFuniak Springs Police Department to reunite with their daughter today.
Sheriff Grady Judd expressed his appreciation to the media and asked for their continued assistance in helping to find William Mitchell. Sheriff Judd told reporters that Mitchell had taken the victim to a Wal-Mart in the community and told her not to draw attention to herself or he would kill her.
Mitchell left the victim at the store and at approximately 12:30 pm. DeFuniak Springs Police, acting on a reported suspicious person call, found the victim. She told police that Mitchell was armed. He is still believed to be driving the 2000 black Chevrolet Lumina, tag number G02 5EL.
“This investigation is far from over. We are elated that she has been found, but we must still locate Mitchell and bring him to justice,” said Sheriff Judd. “Finding her safe is a blessing.”
Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives issued an Amber Alert for at approximately 1:58 am, today, Tuesday, October 2, 2007.
The victim was reported missing by her parents at 6:22 am, Monday, October 1, 2007, from the family’s residence in Bartow, Florida. Friends of the victim said she told them she was running away to be with someone she loved.
Polk County Sheriff’s detectives became concerned that the victim may be in the company of Sexual Offender William Joe Mitchell. Mitchell, a WM, who provides two birth dates, 01/13/1961 and 02/14/1960, is 5’11” tall and weighs approximately 158 lbs, has brown hair and blue eyes. Mitchell has several tattoos. On his left arm there is the name LISA, and a CROSS, the word LOVE is tattooed on his fingers. On his right arm he has a tattoo that reads WE, and the name BILL.
Mitchell’s last known address is 1413 Lane Avenue, North, Jacksonville, Florida. Mitchell was charged in 2002 with Lewd or Lascivious Battery on a Victim 12-15 years old and his extensive criminal history includes charges of Robbery, Assault with a Weapon, Bomb Threat, Smuggle Contraband; Possession of Hacksaw Blades, Grand Larceny, and Lewd and Lascivious Charges.
Anyone with information relating to this case is asked to please contact the Polk County Sheriff’s Office at 863.533.0344.