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A Washington mother is asking for the public’s help in finding her 14-year-old daughter, who is missing after apparently leaving home to meet a man she had been communicating with online.
Ella Jones was last seen on the evening of Jan. 5, when she went to bed at her home on North 20th Street in Mount Vernon. Police believe she left late that evening or in the early morning hours of Jan. 6, when Jones’ mother, Sarah Merrill, reported her missing.
“She was here at bedtime and we had a normal evening,” Merrill told Fox News Digital. “She even laid with me right before I went to bed. I was tired because I had a long week at work. And she said, ‘I love you. Goodnight,’ and left the room.”
Merrill got up to make coffee and omelets the next morning when she realized Jones was not in her room and some of her belongings were gone.
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Ella Jones, 14, has been missing from Mount Vernon, Washington, since Jan. 5. (Sarah Merrill)
“She took a bunch of stuff with her, like she knew she thought she had somewhere to go. Clothes, her blow-dryer, my flat iron. … So I immediately went to her friend’s house and started asking questions,” Merrill explained, adding that Ella’s friends were “immediately concerned.”
It is unlike the 14-year-old girl to have no communication via phone or social media with neither family nor friends, Merrill said.
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Ella Jones, 14, has had no communication via phone or social media. (Sarah Merrill)
Jones had left a note for Merrill saying she loved her, but that was the last Merrill heard from her daughter, which she said was unusual. She would have expected a phone call by now, at the very least, to know her daughter was safe.
“She has never done anything like this before, and it is completely unlike her and out of character, and everyone who knows her is extremely concerned about her well-being,” Merrill said.
“We love her, and we’re all doing everything we can to look for her.”
Jones’ friends also told Merrill that the girl had been communicating with a man in his late 20s or early 30s online on platforms like Discord. Merrill had previously punished Jones for talking to the stranger by temporarily taking her phone away, but Merrill said she did not realize the extent of their relationship.
Ella Jones’ friends said she had been communicating with a man in his late 20s or early 30s online on platforms like Discord. (Sarah Merrill)
“I didn’t fully realize the gravity of it. …. You always have something kind of going on with teenagers to some extent. But, I mean, she’s really sweet, good natured kid. So, the longer it went, the more the kids started opening up about [the online relationship],” Merrill said. “One friend had said that she really trusted him. And they’re all pretty confident that’s where they think she is.”
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Jones’ friends have told Merrill different versions of the same story that Jones is with the older man she met online. Merrill said other small, varying details have become confusing, and the full picture of what happened is unclear.
The Mount Vernon Police Department in Washington is searching for missing 14-year-old Ella Jones. (Sarah Merrill)
“I don’t have a lot of specifics or details right now. That’s the only lead we have is that she was talking to a male online. Police have finally taken her electronics to do forensics. So I’m hoping they can find more than what I found in 10 hours of digging,” the distraught mother said.
There have been various reported sightings of Jones from different areas around Washington — mostly in the Everett area, Merrill said — but none have been confirmed.
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Jones is described as 5 feet, 5 inches, a White female with brown hair, weighing approximately 135 pounds. Authorities believe she was wearing a black hoodie, multicolored pajama pants and black Nike Air Force shoes when she left home. She also likely took more clothing with her in a backpack.
Police are asking anyone who might see Jones to contact 911 immediately. Anyone with information regarding the 14-year-old girl’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Skagit County Dispatch at 360-428-3211.
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.