Missing Girl Found Safe, Teen Charged In Connection With Case
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The search for a missing 11-year-old Miami Gardens girl is over. Melaine Sharpe Ubiera was found early Friday morning in Hollywood. Police said she was with a 16-year-old boy who is now charged with Interference with Police Custody.
“I am very happy, very happy, sure, I can not hide that,” said Ubiera’s grandfather, Alfredo Sharpe.
Sharpe and Ubiera’s step-father, Cildo Chavez, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they had prayed for her safe return.
“I am grateful, so grateful that she has been found,” said Chavez. “We are looking forward to having her home. She was crying when I spoke with her. And I could tell she was ashamed.”
“She actually told me she saw the news coverage on TV when she was away and she wanted to call me but she was told not to,” said Chavez.
At a news conference, Miami Gardens Police explained the charges against Michael Wendel.
“He interfered with the police investigation. He was with her, maybe he knew that she was missing and he didn’t come forward to see he knew where she was. That’s interfering with a police investigation,” said Miami Gardens police Detective Carlton Coleman.
Wendel was released from the Juvenile Assessment Center on Friday and will not have a hearing until October 12th.
Miami Gardens police said she was found unharmed at a duplex located at 1856 Sherman Street in Hollywood around 12:40 a.m.
Melaine was last seen outside her grandparent’s home late Tuesday night.
Two private investigators said she was tracked down by the iPod she was using.
They donated their time in this case to help detectives and they feel they may have been instrumental in helping find Melaine and Wendel.
“We searched her room after police had been there and found a notebook that was hidden and we found some notes that showed this was not a happy situation,” said investigator Joe Carrillo.
Carrillo told D’Oench, “To me is sounds like she was depressed a lot. There were e-mails and a lot of screen names and guys names. We called police and they came and picked them up.”
Investigator Jorge Delrio said, “After 24 hours, the FDLE and the F.B.I. were able to find her.”
Chavez said she met the teen online and they had possibly met in person before.
“She met this guy through a game, through a game console,” Chavez told CBS4’s Kara Kostanich.
Chavez said the FBI pulled information from the 11-year-old’s computer and found she had been chatting online with men from several other states.
“They found that she had been talking to some people that were registered offenders and probably known as sex predators also,” said Chavez.
He also said he thinks she left home because she wanted more freedom. Her mother died 14 months ago and she now lives with her elderly grandparents. She told her stepfather she cares for the 16-year-old boy.
“What I got from her was, ‘I love this guy, this guy lets me do what I want, doesn’t tell me what to do’,” said Chavez.
Police said it’s unclear if Melaine ran away but witnesses at the duplex in Hollywood where she was found said they saw the couple sleeping by the pool. The girl told her stepfather she was staying with people she had never seen before.
“It was very, very, very scary because she was in a house where she said these people weren’t any relationship to her or to this guy.”
Chavez told D’Oench that Melaine was being evaluated at the Citrus Behavioral Health Center in Hialeah and could be there up to 72 hours.
Chavez said he planned to visit her Friday night at the Center.
“She seems healthy and I don’t think anything is wrong with her,” said Chavez. “But she will have to get through her depression.”
“For now when she goes home, she will be with her grandparents,” said Chavez. He said, “They want her home and they are her legal guardians. But I promise I will try to be a bigger part of her life to help her.”
Chavez told D’Oench that Melaine’s father was “out of the picture” and “did not want to have anything to do with her.”