October 4, 2012
Ten days after her mother reported her missing, 15-year-old Stephanie Pritchard’s whereabouts are still unknown.
The Delaware City Police Department suspects the teen is a runaway and is likely to still be in the Delaware area, said Capt. Bruce Pijanowski.
“Right now, we are operating under the premise that she is voluntarily missing,” he said.
Her mother, Patty Cox, suspects she is with friends.
Cox said that two of Stephanie’s three sisters have had babies in the last eight months, and that Stephanie has been doing a lot of babysitting.
“Apparently all her friends think that’s the reason she ran away,” Cox said.
Cox added that last month marked two years since the death of Stephanie’s father.
“I know that she’s really upset about my husband dying,” Cox said. “Other than that I don’t know why.”
She said Stephanie has never run away before and is “the last kid that I thought would run away.”
Another angle the DCPD considered was Stephanie’s history of her chat room communications with someone from Massachusetts, Pijanowski said. At this time, however, the DCPD does “not have any reason to believe she’s in Massachusetts.”
He said that both the person in Massachusetts and the area authorities have been made aware that Stephanie is missing.
Additionally, Cox said she let downtown business operators know about Stephanie’s disappearance and gave photos of the girl to employees. Cox said Stephanie was seen by adults at the Mean Bean Sept. 5 and Sept. 7, and the Hamburger Inn on Sept. 11.
The Facebook group, Help Find Stephanie Pritchard, has collected more than 100 members. Tips about Stephanie’s whereabouts, words of encouragement and support, as well as advice to Stephanie herself have been posted. The wall can be viewed at facebook.com/groups/findstephaniep/.
Pijanowski said that a large majority of similar cases “end up resolving themselves.” He said the department hopes that someone who has seen Stephanie or knows of her whereabouts would notify the police.
“This is a case where we’ve done just about everything that we can do to locate her,” said Pijanowski.
Cox described Stephanie as 5’7” and 125 lbs. with long blonde hair.
“I want her back,” said Cox, her voice cracking. “I love her and I want her back.”
The DCPD urged anyone with information about Stephanie’s location to call the department at 740-203-1100.