NEWARK, Ohio – A girl reported missing in California nine years ago was found in Ohio, living under a different name with her mother, authorities said.
Prosecutors said a woman recognized the girl's picture from the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (search) and called sheriff's deputies.
She was found Friday in nearby Johnstown, in central Ohio, authorities said.
The girl, Vanesa Brancheau (search), was 5 when she and her mother, Sheri Lyn Taylor, were reported missing in 1995 from the Los Angeles community of Woodland Hills, the county sheriff's office said in a news release.
The girl is now 13 and attending school using the name Ariel Rose Wiggins, the sheriff's office said.
"She seems healthy, fine," Amy Weeks, an assistant Licking County prosecutor, said Thursday. "There are no neglect issues."
Sheriff's Capt. Rod Mitchell said Thursday that Taylor indicated she and her husband had been fighting for custody of the girl at the time of the disappearance.
"She's saying there was a custody battle and she couldn't afford attorney fees and she was afraid of him," he said.
No charges have been filed, and Mitchell said more investigating was needed.
"We don't want to necessarily paint the dad as the good guy," he said.
Mitchell said Taylor and the girl had been in Licking County for about three years with Taylor's boyfriend. Taylor has also lived in Florida and Missouri.
Weeks said no charges are pending against Taylor in California. A temporary court order issued in 1996 gives custody to the father, David Brancheau of Auburn Hills, Mich., she said.
Brancheau saw his daughter Monday for the first time since 1995. "He was excited," Weeks said. "It was very emotional." A message seeking comment was left Thursday at a phone listing for Brancheau.
Taylor could not be reached for comment. There was no listing for her in Johnstown.
The girl was placed in foster care Tuesday after a hearing in Licking County Juvenile Court (search). Weeks said both parents are allowed to see her.