CONWAY, N.H. (AP) — A 15-year-old New Hampshire girl who disappeared while on her way home from school nine months ago is safely home with her family, the state attorney general said Monday.
Abigail Hernandez was reunited with her family on Sunday evening, Attorney General Joseph Foster said.
Foster said the family has asked for privacy. He said Abigail's mother, Zenya Hernandez, told authorities "today we are the happiest people on earth."
Police said Abigail was last seen Oct. 9 after leaving Kennett High School in Conway. Police said she walked her normal route toward her house and sent several texts between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. But she never made it home.
Police did reveal several months ago that she had written home to her mother. When the letter surfaced, FBI Special Agent In Charge Kieran Ramsey said there was the possibility that Abigail had run away but that someone could still be coercing her into staying away from home.
"The long and short of it is, quite honestly, we are just happy that she's home safe and sound right now," Ramsey said Monday. He declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.
In a brief statement, Foster said the criminal investigation in Abigail's disappearance will continue. Jane Young, chief of the attorney general's criminal bureau, said the case required the kind of full-scale investigation that was launched.
"We said all along, this was a child who was missing and we marshalled all our resources and we can gratefully say that she was able to be reunited with her family," Young said.
After Abigail disappeared, police initially said she made it home, but later said she hadn't. Police also at first said she made a call about 6:30 p.m. that day but later said that, too, was wrong.
After she vanished, police consistently said they have no evidence to suggest anything suspicious and were treating her disappearance as a missing-person's case.
The disappearance rattled the town of 2,300 residents in Mount Washington Valley, who were reminded of the still-unsolved killing of another young girl from rural New Hampshire three years ago: 11-year-old Celina Cass disappeared from her West Stewartstown home in July 2011, and her body was recovered a week later in the Connecticut River.
In Conway, rescuers fanned out for days over the heavily forested terrain that surrounds the townhouse where Hernandez lives with her mother. Police also searched by air, stopped traffic and handed out missing posters and used boats on the Saco River and Pudding Pond.