Runaway Hamilton teen returns home safely

December 2, 2009 10:05:00 AM



A runaway Hamilton girl reported missing Sunday is safe at home with her family. 


Jasmine Howard, 16, was picked up by Columbus Police Department officers around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday after calling police from the Plaza Motel on Island Road to say she wanted to go home. 


Howard''s mother, Jacqueline Howard, said Jasmine was with several boys over the last three days, but she was not harmed.  


According to CPD Officer Travis Robertson, Jasmine was alone at the time she was picked up by police and would not divulge the names of the people she had been with since Sunday. 


"She was real vague with any information. She wouldn''t tell us who she was with or how old they were," said Robertson. "If we got some names they could have been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor." 


Jacqueline Howard plans to press charges if any of the people who helped Jasmine run away are identified. She''s unsure why Jasmine, who has never run away from home before, wanted to leave. 


"Teens get to where they think they can''t talk to their parents," said Jacqueline Howard. 


Jacqueline Howard has made an appointment for her and Jasmine to speak to a counselor. 


Chief Deputy Brent Swan with the Monroe County Sheriff''s Office said Tuesday a pick-up order had been issued by Monroe County Youth Court to allow officers to detain Jasmine if found. She then would have been taken before a youth court judge to determine if she would be released to her family or taken to a juvenile detention center. Jacqueline Howard is unsure if Jasmine will have to appear before a youth court judge. 


Robertson noted CPD officers are accustomed to handling runaway cases. 


"We do have that problem quite a bit around here with juveniles being gone a couple days," he said. 


Law enforcement officials became aware Jasmine was in the Columbus area Tuesday when she called one of the men suspected of helping her run away, Zach Polk, of Amory, from a Columbus number. Jacqueline Howard said officers were with Polk when he received the call and listened in on the conversation. Hours later, Jasmine called the CPD to ask for a ride home. 


The cellular number Jasmine used to call Polk had shown up in call records to her phone in previous days. A man reached at the number Tuesday would not identify himself, saying multiple people used the phone. 


Jasmine, a sophomore at Hamilton High School, likely will return to school Friday or Monday, her mother said. 


The MCSO, Aberdeen Police Department and Amory Police Department all had been notified of Jasmine Howard''s disappearance. 


Officials were treating the case as a runaway after texts from Jasmine to her cousin revealed she left voluntarily and wished to live with her grandmother in Sulligent, Ala.