Madison Bell, 18, of Greenfield, told authorities that she doesn’t want the spot where she’s been holed up during the nearly week-long search to be known, news station WHIO reported.
The graduating high school senior disappeared from home on May 17, telling her mom that she was heading to a tanning salon.
“She yelled, ‘I’m going to go tan. I’ll be right back,’ and I was like, ‘OK, be careful,’” her mom, Melissa Montavon, told news station WXIX.
But she never showed up to her appointment and her car was found abandoned in a church parking lot with her phone inside.
Sheriff Donnie Barrera said the investigation revealed that Bell left of her own free will and told them she wanted “to start a new life,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He said officers found her at a distant location.
Barrera said the teen was with a “person of interest” but didn’t provide any details about the identity of the companion.
It’s unclear whether the person was one seen in a photo released by authorities of a man and a white car spotted in Bell’s last known location before her disappearance.
Her family released a statement asking for privacy “during this difficult time while we are emotionally raw.”
“We are just relieved to know Maddie is alive and not in physical danger,” they said.