A Wausau, Wis., woman who disappeared in 2004 at age 16 has been discovered living in Mexico and hopes to bring her three young children to her home state by Christmas time, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
As the Wausau Daily Herald reports, volunteers at an Athens, Wis., church are trying to raise money to bring Connie McCallister, 26, back to the United States. McCallister disappeared with her then-22-year-old boyfriend Aug. 15, 2004, when she was an honor-roll student and cross-country runner at Athens High School. She also worked at a local bakery.
Judy Weise, a family friend who is leading the fundraising effort, told the Journal Sentinel: "We want to use this as an example for families with missing relatives to never give up hope. There's always a chance their loved one could come home. Don't ever give up hope."
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children had carried McCallister’s name and photo on its website until three months ago, when a church missionary who met McCallister contacted officials at the national organization, the Daily Herald reports.
WSAU reports Wausau police confirmed that McCallister ended her relationship with the old boyfriend. She is now married to a different man, who is the father of her two youngest children.
According to the Journal Sentinel, McCallister plans to bring her three daughters to Athens and then petition a court to allow her husband to join them there.
Wausau police did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press seeking an update on the then-boyfriend, who had been wanted on sex-assault charges on an unrelated victim.
U.S. Consulate officials are working with McCallister to gather documents so she can return home, Wausau Police Detective Kay Hansen, who has worked the case since Wausau police were tipped that McCallister is alive, told the Daily Herald.