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Ohio Teen, Who Was Found Safe Days After Going Missing, Wanted 'to Start a New Life,' Says Sheriff

People logo People 5/23/2020 Ally Mauch
a woman smiling for the camera: Madison Bell © Highland County Sheriff's Office Madison Bell

Madison Bell, the 18-year-old who went missing last week, has been found safe, multiple outlets reported.

When she was found, the teenager from Greenfield, Ohio, indicated to police that she wanted “to start a new life” and left on her own free will, Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera told Fox 8.

Madison, a high school senior, left home on May 17 to go tanning but never returned. Her car was later found abandoned in a church parking lot, with her cell phone on the seat and the keys still in the ignition.

"I've shed a lot of tears, and sometimes I haven't shed any because I feel like I've just cried everything I have out," Melissa Bell told WKRC when her daughter first went missing, adding that the outpouring of support from their neighbors and friends has provided some solace.

"It makes me feel so much better because that's my baby," the worried mother told the station.

RELATED: Ohio Teen Hasn't Been Seen Since Sunday, and Phone Was Found in Car with Keys in Ignition

In a statement to WLWT, the Bell family requested that their privacy be respected and thanked the hundreds of volunteers who spent the past week blanketing their area with flyers about Madison's disappearance.

“We ask that the public and media respect our privacy during this difficult time while we are emotionally raw. We are just relieved to know Maddie is alive and not in physical danger,” the family statement said. “Thank you to every single person who looked for Maddie including Rescue 1010 Search and Rescue, Texas Equusearch, the amazing members of our local community and volunteers that came from other areas to search for our daughter.”

The statement continued, “Thank you to everyone who donated on Maddie’s behalf to assure we had reward money to offer for her safe return. Thank you to the law enforcement agencies and members for their hard work over the past 6 days, and for leaving no rock unturned. Thanks to friends and family who have supported us during the most difficult time of our lives. Every single effort to find Maddie has touched us and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.”

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