CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hailey Burns, a teenager who had been missing for the past year from her Ballantyne home, was found alive over the weekend and returned from Georgia to Charlotte with her family.
An FBI special agent in Charlotte learned of information that led them to Burns, now 17, at a home in Duluth, Georgia, where she was found just after midnight Saturday.
Michael Ren Wysolovski, 31, was taken into custody in Georgia and is facing a number of state charges, the FBI said.
Wysolovski faced a judge on Monday and was denied bond after he was arrested and charged for allegedly holding Burns captive in his Duluth home, our sister station WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.
He has been charged with aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children deprivation in the 1st degree, interference with custody and false imprisonment, according to WSB-TV.
“It was a dream come true,” said Hailey's mother, Shaunna Burns.
Channel 9 reporter DaShawn Brown spoke to Hailey's parents over the phone as they drove to Charlotte from the Atlanta area with their daughter.
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Burns, a student at Myers Park High School, had been held captive at Wysolovski’s home.
Her parents said Hailey met the man online.
(Michael Ren Wysolovski)
“(He) got her in the car, brought her straight to his house and she pretty much had to stay there the whole time,” Shaunna Burns said.
Shaunna Burns said that while in Georgia, Hailey met a woman online from Romania. The two started to chat when Hailey told the woman she was missing.
After researching the case, that woman contacted Hailey's parents Friday night.
“We got the first message at 8:09 (p.m.) and then by 12:32 (a.m.), they had her,” Shaunna Burns said.
(Video from outside the home of where Hailey Burns was found in Georgia, from WSB-TV)
Hailey’s parents said a tipster reached out to Hailey to find out where she was. Hailey didn’t know, so she took a photo from the house window, and within hours she was rescued.
Former FBI assistant director Chris Swecker said the response in the case was remarkable given that Burns didn't know where she was at.
"The victim took a picture outside and all they had to go on was the neighborhood, and what it looked like from inside the house,” Swecker said. “They did enough research and gumshoe work to figure out where that young woman was being held. That's a nice piece of work."
“We know that this happy ending is not the norm, it is the exception to the rule,” Shaunna Burns said. “We want people to know that there are happy endings to this kind of a story.”
The FBI in Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will continue their investigation into Burns' disappearance and will be working closely with FBI agents in Atlanta and the Gwinnett County Police Department.
A neighbor told Channel 9's sister station WSB-TV in Atlanta that he saw Hailey once unloading groceries, said hello, and didn't see any signs of distress and didn't know she was missing.
Hailey had last been seen at her home on Baldwin Drive in Charlotte at 12:30 a.m. on May 23, 2016.
Police said at the time, there was information that she may have left on her own accord, but they don’t know if she was helped by others.
(Home where Hailey Burns was found in Duluth, Georgia)
Hailey’s parents told Channel 9 that when they woke up that morning they found the door unlocked and Hailey gone.
Last month, the FBI announced a $15,000 reward in the case. Her family also put up billboards with Hailey’s picture on them in an effort to find her.
Channel 9 anchor Erica Bryant had recently reported an update on the missing teenager.
“You have to let go of the hope that she will just walk through the door," Shaunna Burns said in a recent interview. “We are past that point. She is not just going to come home in the middle of the night. You have to hope that they still find her, wherever she is.”
“You have to distract yourself because you will drive yourself crazy wondering what you could have done, or could be doing,” Anthony Burns, her father, said.
A tip from one of Hailey’s classmates seemed to confirm their worst fears.
“He told me that my daughter had been talking to a 30-year-old man for over six months who was trying to convince her to talk to him, and saying that he would be her friend and she could come to him,” Anthony Burns said.
Earlier this month, Anthony Burns told Channel 9 that he hopes to publish his book of poetry, titled “5/23/16,” which is the date that Hailey disappeared.
He said he would like all of the proceeds to go to organizations that help families with missing children.
(Eyewitness News anchor Erica Bryant's June 2 story on Hailey Burns)
On May 23rd 2016 my wife and I awoke to get our 16 year old daughter up for school Monday morning.
In her bed was a pile of stuffed animals and a journal with happy thoughts and a plan to leave our home.
As the days that followed would reveal there was much more to what happened to my daughter on that day and it will forever change my life.
I am writing this for the parents of missing persons who are waiting for news of what has happened to their child.
My daughter was troubled and had psychological problems that were diagnosed and clouded her judgment. I was working very closely with her to get her on track spending evenings trying to bond with her and feeling as if I was making some progress.
But then on 05/23/2016 my life was forever changed.
I miss you Hailey and as a published poet I hope if you read this you will understand that all of this is done for you and to help others avoid the loss that our family feels now that you are gone.
I love you my perfect daughter
Your real “Daddy”
<3 <3 <3
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