PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Port St. Lucie police said a missing 15-year-old girl who never showed up to school Monday morning has been found safe.
WPTV confirmed around 5:30 p.m. that Saige Stiles is now with a police department detective. Detectives are still conducting interviews to determine the exact circumstances of the teen's disappearance.
Officers responded to the area of Southwest Tulip Boulevard between Southwest Darwin Boulevard and Southwest Belmont Circle around 6:55 a.m. Monday after receiving a 911 call from Stiles' friend.
According to police, Stiles was talking to that friend on the phone while walking alone to Treasure Coast High School and said she was being followed by someone.
Officers arrived on scene and found Stiles' backpack and cellphone on the sidewalk of the Panther Trace Community on Southwest Tulip Boulevard.
Police said a camera system in the area showed Stiles at 7:30 a.m. walking behind houses in the community and "did not appear to be in any immediate danger or distress at the time."
"She just was walking. Didn't appear she was in danger or distress. Just walking through the backyard," said Sgt. John Dellacroce at a news conference Monday.
WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE:
Just hours later, Stiles was seen walking in the area of Southwest Hawthorne Circle and Southwest Paar Drive just before noon, again, not appearing to be in "any immediate danger or distress at that time," police said.
Update as of 4:15pm - Saige was observed on video walking in the area of SW Hawthorne Cir and SW Paar Dr at 11:51am. She does not appear to be in any immediate danger or distress at that time. We ask the community that if you observe Saige, please immediately call 911. https://t.co/eLyuuaVDTX pic.twitter.com/iUfnNNobVD— Port St. Lucie PD (@PSLPolice) April 11, 2022
For hours Monday, detectives from the Port St. Lucie Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division investigated the circumstances of Stiles' disappearance.
Police have not released any additional details about how Stiles was found, only that she is safe with a detective as of 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Exclusive video from WPTV Chopper 5 showed multiple police cruisers and yellow caution tape blocking off a large wooded area on Southwest Tulip Boulevard. There were several evidence markers on the ground, along with K9s searching and a crime scene van at the scene.
Police eventually took the yellow tape down around 10:15 a.m.
The area where Stiles vanished is heavily residential with patches of woods.
WATCH CHOPPER 5 VIDEO:
Around 10:15 a.m., a Port St. Lucie police officer could be seen digging through what appeared to be a large purse or backpack, and leafing through what looked like a purple notebook.
It's unclear if those items belong to Stiles.
The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office was involved in the search, using a helicopter to survey the area. In addition, the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office used its bloodhounds in the effort.
The police department said investigators have spoken to Stiles' friend who called 911, along with Stiles' father, and both are cooperating with the investigation.
"When a call comes out like this, every available officer. It's intensive manpower, an intensive search," Dellacroce said. "It's all hands on deck until we can find her."
REPORT FROM SCENE:
Also assisting police was Michael McCreight with the Fort Pierce Guardian Angels.
"This is my fourth case," he said. "I 've located four missing juveniles since I've been on the Guardian Angels."
For hours, McCreight searched parks, gas stations and schools.
Dr. Andrew Scott, a former chief with the Boca Raton Police Department, said when a call like this comes in, every available officer is used.
"Law enforcement agencies are compelled to take every report of a missing child seriously until the facts of the specific incident reveal that there's something else that may not be as nefarious," he said.