CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hailey Burns, the Charlotte teenager who disappeared more than a year ago, has been reunited with her family after a tip on Facebook led investigators to her.
Channel 9 anchor Erica Bryant has followed Hailey’s case since the beginning, staying in touch with her parents as they held out hope that they would find her one day.
Hailey had a smile on her face when Channel 9 went to their home Monday, but her parents said she is different now.
“There are changes in my daughter. She is not the same person that left and that is the hardest part of this,” said her mother, Shaunna Burns.
They said the teen's exhausted and has lost 15-20 pounds.
Her parents can’t share all of the details of her ordeal because of the ongoing investigation, but they believe she was lured away by an older man she met online.
It turns out that when Hailey’s parents woke up and found the front door unlocked, Hailey was gone and she had been picked up less than a mile from her home.
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“This is our child, our baby,” Shaunna Burns said. “We would, we would never hurt her and the idea that someone did is really, really hard.”
Hailey’s parents said that a woman overseas reached out to them Saturday night.
“I got a message that said, ‘I’ve been in communication with your daughter and she’s alive and she wants to come home,’ and from there it has been like an avalanche,” Shaunna Burns said.
They said the person had communicated with Hailey, and even showed her Channel 9’s coverage of the desperate search to find her.
“She saw your stories and said, ‘Oh my God, my parents really do want me back. They miss me and they love me,’ and that’s what made her say, 'I want to go home,'” Shaunna Burns said.
Authorities rescued Hailey in Georgia and arrested the man they said had abducted her within a matter of hours.
Hailey’s parents call it a miracle and said it should give hope to others with missing loved ones.
“Families need to know don’t give up no matter how much time passes,” her father, Anthony Burns, said. “There is hope that you just have to keep believing that the one lead will come.”
Michael Ren Wysolovski, 31, was taken into custody in Georgia and is facing a number of state charges, the FBI said.
He faced a judge on Monday and was denied bond.
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