New Details: Investigators say they have credible information that places a missing teen in the Panhandle. The scary thing they say is that she may have learned to run away online.
For more than a month, the faces and names of missing children have been no strangers to families and their TV sets. But what if these cases became more common, thanks in part to some help from the worldwide web.
The Runaway Guide is an online tool used by some to escape the reins of their parents. Leif a 24-year-old man is the founder of the website. He ran away at the age of 16 and is still on the run.
He glamorizes running away by showing kids all they can do without adult supervision. Topics included: how to find runaway jobs, how to sleep on the street and how to jump a border.
Despite the fact that many of these are illegal activities, Leif says he takes no responsibility for their actions. "It's a joke, it's like the website that would instruct you in full detail to build a bomb, but in the last line, it gives a disclaimer telling you probably shouldn't do this," Investigator Albert Willis said.
Willis says he wasn't aware of this site until recently. He says acquaintances of Emily Paul, a missing 14-year-old from Southport, told him they knew about it and chances were she did too.
"It's dangerous, a lot of those websites will instruct children on how to runaway but doesn't at all prepare them for when they are on their own," Willis said.
Less elaborate Youtube videos show kids what to do before leaving home. Willis says this just emphasizes the role parents should be taking when it comes to internet usage and their kids. "Monitor it. It is your job as a parent to monitor what your kids are doing on the internet."
Emily was last seen this Saturday at Econfina Springs but ran away after she was recognized. If you or anyone has information, contact the Bay County Sheriff's Office at (850) 747-4700 or Crimestoppers (850) 785-TIPS.