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Police Find Missing Teen After Leads Come In to Help With Search Efforts

Evgenia (Zhenya) Waite disappeared Friday evening from her Willow Glen home in San Jose.

Nearly five days after a teen went missing from a Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose, leads that came in to assist in her search helped find her Wednesday morning, police say.

San Jose police officer spokesman Albert Morales said detective Kelvin Pham was helping parents Virginia and Mark Waite find their daughter Evgenia (Zhenya) Waite, who disappeared Friday evening after an argument with dad.

"We have Zhenya safe at home with us now," said a relieved dad Mark Waite.

"We have Zhenya safe at home with us now," said the relieved father.

A post on the Willow Glen Charm Facebook page, which was removed early this morning, had said the 15-year-old St. Lawrence Academy student had been found.

"We received the false positive today," said Greg Barr, administrator for the local blog. "Somebody out there posted a complete but inaccurate posting that she had been found. They’re (Zhenya's parents) in touch with the police and trying to track down who posted that false positive."

Barr and his wife Holly, both Willow Glen residents, initially posted the missing girl's flier on their blog Monday because one of her teachers contacted the couple and asked their help in spreading the word.

"We got several hundred shares, people expressing concern and giving prayers," he said. "She's from Willow Glen so we just wanted to help out."

Mom Virginia Waite said at the time that her daughter hadn't actually been found yet, but police and those actively searching for her had received information about where she might be staying.

"I'm working with the police to try to find her," said the emotionally distraught  mother at the time.

Virginia Waite said she received the tip as to her daughter's possible whereabouts Tuesday evening at 10 p.m., but declined to reveal who it came from so as to not jeopardize the investigation.

"She's safe ... but I'm working with the police today to try to locate her," she said before reuniting with her.

Virginia Waite said the community of Willow Glen and Evergreen Valley, where she lives, rallied around her family to find the girl.

A missing person flier for the youth had been distributed to the community by several friends, family members and San Jose City Councilwoman Rose Herrera's office.

Her uncle is Pat Waite, a prominent Evergreen Valley leader who ran for San Jose City Council several years ago, losing to Herrera by a narrow margin.

The fliers have also been posted within a mile radius from the girl's father's home on Creek Drive in Willow Glen, where she disappeared from, and in the Evergreen area of San Jose.

The teen was described as having brown hair and brown eyes, being 5-foot-1 and weighing about 100 pounds. She has three siblings.

The teen's mother said she had been receiving about 50 emails a day since the girl's disappearance from people in the Evergreen and Willow Glen community and all over the Bay Area.

"I've had people offer me food, help with putting up fliers and going to look for her ... all kinds of amazing things," she said.

A formal foot search for the girl was being planned for today by the police, Wednesday, but it was called off because they were going to look in an area different than the location the tip said the girl could possibly be, Virginia Waite said.

Officer Morales, who has a teenage daughter himself, said from his time working at local high schools, said when teens run away the situation is compounded by the difficulties of adolescence. "It's important for parents to be aware of where their children are at all times, who they hang out with, what social media websites they're on ... " officer Morales said.

"Most teens have a Facebook account, a Myspace.com account ... they're on Twitter and Instagram. Our response here is to categorize these cases. If we have any leads where we believe there's foul play and that it needs to be addressed immediately, we classify the individual as at-risk," Morales explained.

Saint Lawrence Academy Principal Christie Filios said that the school community was very concerned about Zhenya's safety. "We hope that we will have good news soon that Zhenya has been found and reunited with her family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Waite family during this difficult time," Filios said.

—Mayra Flores De Marcotte contributed to this article

Dyan Chan October 31, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Is she home safely??
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) October 31, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Yes, spoke to both mom and dad and she's doing well and finally reunited with her family. Thanks for the tip, Dyan.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz November 01, 2012 at 06:12 AM
That's always Good News that she's home & safe.
Dyan Chan November 01, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Thank goodness!

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