A missing Florida teenage girl has been found safe, authorities said Friday, nearly one week after she allegedly left home with a local soccer coach 10 years her senior.
Caitlyn Frisina, 17, was located in upstate New York with Rian Rodriguez, 27, a family friend and Frisina’s father’s assistant soccer coach at the high school, authorities said. It’s believed she had left voluntarily with him.
On Friday around 4 p.m. ET, a New York State Police officer in Syracuse spotted the car the two were believed to have fled in, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The officer pulled the car over and took Rodriguez into custody without incident, the sheriff’s office said.
Frisina was detained until she was reunited with her family in the Syracuse area.
“We had a very beautiful, wonderful, very emotional reunion with her a little while ago,” the teen’s mother, Scarlet Frisina, told ABC affiliate WSYR in an interview Saturday afternoon. “We are so thankful to have her back.”
“We are looking forward to a lot more time together and being able to get back home and move forward as a family,” she added.
A photo provided to ABC News by the family on Saturday showed Frisina smiling while embracing her parents.
Rodriguez was initially detained on a warrant for interference with child custody. Late Friday night, New York State Police said he had been charged as a fugitive of justice and was arraigned in the town of Salina and remanded to Onondaga County.
Detectives from Florida are scheduled to arrive in Syracuse on Saturday to continue their investigation. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office have been advised of this case and will consider federal charges in Florida.
The incident began Sunday when Frisina’s parents reported her missing. She had last been seen at her home Saturday night. The teen’s phone — which had been completely erased — was left behind, authorities said.
Frisina and Rodriguez were spotted on cameras in Georgia on Sunday and then at a pawn shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
The two were believed to be headed north, authorities said earlier this week. Frisina has family in New York and Rodriguez has family in Canada and possibly Pennsylvania, according to Columbia County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Murray Smith.
Authorities said it appeared “a potential relationship” was blossoming between Frisina and Rodriguez before the teen’s disappearance.
Rodriguez had been working as a boys’ soccer coach at Fort White High School, but was suspended pending the investigation, according to a statement from Columbia County Schools superintendent Lex Carswell.
Frisina has played soccer at Fort White High School, according to an online roster published by Next College Student Athlete.
Rodriguez and the teen had been around each other “at sports events, but they’ve never been alone at all,” Smith said.