Police: 'Missing' MN girl wasn't really missing; mother and grandparents face charges

The girl whose disappearance prompted a plea from a small-town police chief that went viral on Facebook wasn't missing, it turns out.
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Remember the girl from Montgomery, Minnesota, whose disappearance prompted this heartfelt Facebook posting from Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander?

Turns out, police say the girl, 16-year-old Audrey Lukes, wasn't missing after all.

Not only that, her mother and two of her grandparents are facing charges of falsely reporting a crime, after they allegedly fed police false information stating that they hadn't seen her despite being in regular contact with her and – at one point – took her for ice cream.

According to a criminal complaint:

Audrey Lukes was reported as a runaway/missing child on Feb. 22, with her mother Tiffany Marie Lukes, 35, telling Montgomery PD she had not seen her for two days.

After filing the report, Tiffany Lukes called the police again on March 7, asking if they had any updates about her daughter. Mongomery PD asked Lukes to bring a picture of her daughter so they could put it on the department's Facebook page.

Lukes never showed and she didn't respond to repeated calls from Montgomery PD, so on March 17, they went to speak with Lukes at her home and found Tiffany's parents, Linda Ann and Ronald Leonard Lukes, 61 and 60, who said they hadn't seen or heard from their granddaughter for three weeks. They gave the officer a picture of Audrey that was used to publicize the search.

A few days later, March 21, Montgomery PD managed to get in touch with Tiffany Lukes and were given a cellphone number for Audrey. Along with various other law enforcement departments, including Kenyon and Lonsdale police and the Le Sueur County Sheriff's Department, they used the cellphone number and data from her provider to try and figure out her location.

It was on that same day that Chief Lee Sjolander of Kenyon PD posted his emotional message to Audrey Lukes, asking for her to let police and her family know where she was and that she was safe.

But after a huge effort by police and a widespread response from Minnesota and even national media to publicize her disappearance, Montgomery Police Sergent Pete Bulger was contacted by Audrey Lukes on Thursday, March 23.

The complaint continues:

Audrey Lukes told Bulger that she was in the Duluth area and that her mother and grandparents had been aware of her location, saying she had been in contact with them frequently since Feb. 20.

On a few occasions she actually returned to her home in Montgomery to shower and get fresh clothes, and on the weekend of Mar. 17-20, her grandparents took her out for ice cream, and had given her money on a couple of occasions.

During an interview, Tiffany Lukes and the grandparents admitted they had given false information to police several times during the month-long search for Audrey.

No reason for why the trio gave false information to the police was revealed in the criminal complaint, nor were any details about what the 16-year-old was doing during the month she was missing.

The mother and two grandparents have each been charged with a misdemeanor of falsely reporting a crime.

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