BRASILIA, Brazil – A 17-year-old Oregon exchange student missing since last weekend was found safe Thursday in northeastern Brazil, ending an intense search by Brazilian authorities and the U.S. Embassy.
Mykensie Martin arrived at a police station in the coastal city of Salvador, about 690 miles northeast of Brazil's capital, Brasilia, said Lt. Alexandre Silva of the federal police in the state of Bahia.
She was accompanied to the police station by a young Brazilian from Salvador identified as Marcos Alves, a waiter at a beachside restaurant. The two arrived holding hands and stayed arm in arm at the police station as a swarm of photographers snapped pictures.
The high school senior from Bend, Ore., did not speak to reporters in Salvador. Federal police spokeswoman Monica Horta said Alves helped Martin escape being robbed and assaulted Tuesday at a Salvador beach after she arrived there from Brasilia on an overnight bus.
Martin then stayed at a vacant apartment arranged by Alves, although the two told police they were just friends. She eventually told him that she had left her host family in the central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais to head to Brasilia and Salvador.
They then decided she should go to the police station.
U.S. Embassy spokesman John Wilcock said her worried parents were notified she was safe just before they boarded a flight from Miami to Sao Paulo to join in the search.
"They were obviously relieved and wanted to express gratitude to Brazilian authorities and media for paying such close attention to this, which resulted in her being found safe," he said.
Horta said the parents and their daughter will be reunited in Brasilia on Friday.
After arriving at the police station, Martin seemed "stressed, but there's nothing physically wrong with her that we can tell," said Rodrigo Koble, an Interpol agent who was at the station.
Before showing up in Salvador, Martin was last seen Sunday evening hitchhiking in Unai, a city 80 miles from Brasilia.
The exchange student left her host city of Carmo do Paranaiba in the central state of Minas Gerais on Sunday to travel 40 miles by bus to Patos de Minas, where she regularly attended Mormon church services.
State police officer Nelson Garcia in Brasilia said officers interviewed workers at a small hotel in Brasilia who said she stayed there Sunday night and talked with them about places to visit in Brazil.
Kalina Ligia Saraiva, the owner of the hotel, told the local newspaper Correio Braziliense that Martin arrived at the hotel accompanied by a young Brazilian man who did not seem to know her very well.
The man checked Martin into the hotel and paid for the room, left and returned Monday about 7:30 a.m. to pick her up when she checked out, Saraiva said in a report on the newspaper's Web site.
"She seemed all right," Saraiva said. "It didn't look like it was a kidnapping."