The 18-year-old University of Illinois student who was reported missing by her family and was last seen about two weeks ago has been found after she walked into a Chicago police station Thursday morning and told police she was "never missing" at all.
Shalyha Ahmad arrived at the 22nd District station in Morgan Park early Thursday and told police she was the teenager they had been looking for, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a tweet.
"She indicated that she was safe, she was never missing and she was never in any harm," Guglielmi told The Chicago Tribune.
The 18-year-old's reappearance comes one day after her parents held a news conference pleading for any information about their daughter's whereabouts. They hadn't seen her since dropping her off at a Chicago train station on Dec. 14.
Ahmad’s mother, Shetti Fatima Ahmad, said that she was supposed to pick up her daughter later that night, but the teen never showed up at their designated meeting spot, WLS reported.
“We were supposed to meet at 6:30 p.m. [ecause we told her we were going to pick her up from school,” Ahmad said. “She did not arrive at our meeting place and that’s when we got worried.”
According to the newspaper, Shalyha had been informed about the news reports and went to the police station so authorities would know she wasn't missing.
During the weeks after Shalyha's disappearance, the worried mother said she has not been able to reach Shalyha on her cellphone or on social media.
She added that she received an anonymous tip that Shalyha may be with friends from the college’s Filipino community. She told the paper that a friend contacted her saying she saw the 18-year-old on campus the same day she was dropped off at the train station to return to campus.
“A friend contacted us to tell us they saw her on campus about 10 or 11 that morning,” Ahmad told the newspaper. “We didn’t know where she disappeared — in the station or in school. So now we know she got to school.”
Chicago police on Thursday said they were searching for Shalyha, who is a freshman at UIC, even though the department was not issuing a missing person flier. They said authorities have been struggling to piece together a timeline of her disappearance, the newspaper reported.
“Generally, before we put out public alerts detectives need to corroborate the initial timeline and conduct a risk assessment on the vulnerability of the individual. Depending on where they live, this could take some time to contact individuals and do interviews,” Chicago police officer Christine Calace said in a statement to the paper.