‘We love you,’ Father of Edmonton teen found in U.S. expresses gratitude for search help | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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‘We love you,’ Father of Edmonton teen found in U.S. expresses gratitude for search help

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The father of a 13-year-old Edmonton teen who was found in Oregon yesterday is expressing his gratitude to the massive community who gathered both online and in the real world to help find her.

Lila Smith was found after a week-long search that began when she was seen arriving at her junior high school but didn't show up for class.

Edmonton Police Insp. Brent Dahlseide said, during a press conference, the teen, who was reported missing June 24, was taken to an Oregon hospital for a precautionary examination after being found safe early Saturday morning.

READ MOREMissing 13-year-old Edmonton girl found alive in Oregon, 41-year-old man arrested

A 41-year-old Oregon man will be charged with child luring and is expected to face additional charges in Canada and the U.S., he said.

Lila's father Martin Smith, issued a statement in a public Facebook group that was started to find her, this morning, July 3. She is safe and resting with her mom, he wrote.

“There are so many questions to ask and so much information to work through, but right now the focus is on us getting Lila home,” he said.

“When I was hugging Lila she told me that she saw her face and saw the news. This made my heart melt. That means that in her darkest moments when she needed her family, she could see us and she could see the overwhelming response of our community to bring her home,” he said.

“My family thanks each of you from the bottom of our hearts. Whether it was a share or posting flyers, our collective efforts helped bring Lila home. Perhaps these individuals will think twice about trying to steal our Canadian children in the future.”

Dahlseide said it's believed the suspect came to Edmonton, but it's not clear how he initially made contact with the girl or how she crossed the U.S. border.

"We would be speculating to say they crossed the border together, but I do know that they were located together, again, in the U.S. once they gained entry," Dahlseide told reporters during the news conference yesterday, noting he believed the two had been communicating online.

"I don't know how long they may have been in contact with one another. I do know that the reason we're going with a child-luring charge at this point is that it's one we can support because of some of the online history."

Photos of Lila have appeared on Albertan billboards and posters, asking people to be on the lookout for her and contact police with tips. Many in the Thompson Okanagan had also been sharing messages and information through social media.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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