VALLEY CENTER, Calif. – A 4-year-old Ohio girl, who had disappeared with her mother and a wanted sex offender, was found Tuesday at a Christian retreat center near San Diego.
The nationwide search for Haylee Donathan ended when authorities discovered her unharmed with the fugitives at the Morning Star Ranch in Valley Center, Calif., the San Diego Union-Tribune said. Deputies had followed a tip from the ranch’s residents.
U.S. deputies arrested the girl’s mother, Candace Watson, 24, and Watson’s boyfriend, sex offender Robbie Potter, 27.
Until the disappearance, Potter had been living at a halfway house in Ohio, after his release from prison for sexual battery on a minor, the U.S. Marshal Service told the Union-Tribune. He was prohibited from interaction with children.
A resident from Morning Star recognized the missing girl Tuesday from a billboard in the Los Angeles area. He verified the information with the ranch’s manager, who then called the authorities.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo told the Union-Tribune that the family had been at the ranch for a week. Haylee will now be placed in the care of her grandmother.