5 Things to Know: Missing North Carolina Teen Found in Georgia One Year Later
Hailey Burns allegedly left behind a diary detailing her plan to run away
A North Carolina teen reported missing more than a year ago was safely recovered early Sunday morning from a residence about 200 miles away in Georgia, the FBI announced.
Hailey Burns, 17, who was found by FBI special agents, was allegedly living in Duluth with 31-year-old Michael Ren Wysolovski, who was taken into custody.
Hailey was 16-years-old when she walked out of her Ballantyne home in May 2016.
She has since been reunited with her family, the FBI announced. Here are five things to know about the unusual case, which still has many unanswered questions.
1. Hailey was Recovered After a Tip from Romania: Reports
The night before she was found, Hailey’s family received a message from a woman in Romania claiming she had been in contact with their daughter, WSB-TV reports.
Hailey and the woman were chatting online when the teen revealed she was reported missing, the station reports. The unidentified woman researched her case and reached out to Burns’ family.
When an unidentified tipster reached out to Hailey and asked where she was, the teen said she didn’t know, so she sent a picture from the Duluth home’s window. Hours later, she was found.
“We know that this happy ending is not the norm, it is the exception to the rule,” Shaunna Burns told WSB-TV. “We want people to know that there are happy endings to this kind of a story.”
2. She Allegedly Met the Suspect Online
After Hailey went missing, her family alleged she had run away with a man she met online.
“He gradually wormed his way into her good graces, he coerced her into listening to him and not following our directions and the next thing I knew my daughter wasn’t communicating with me,” her father told WBTV.
It is currently unclear whether Hailey was forcibly being held captive, but Wysolovski has been charged with false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children and deprivation and interference with custody, according to Fox5.
3. Her Parents Said She Has Asperger’s Syndrome
At the time of her disappearance, Hailey’s family said she was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Earlier this year, before she was recovered, Anthony Burns, her father, shared an excerpt from a book of poetry he hopes to publish called 5/23/2016, WSOC-TV reports.
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“My daughter was troubled and had psychological problems that were diagnosed and clouded her judgment. I was working very closely with her to get her on track spending evenings trying to bond with her and feeling as if I was making some progress,” he writes in the book’s introduction.
4. Hailey Allegedly Wrote About Her Plan to Run Away in Her Diary
According to her family, Hailey left her diary behind that allegedly detailed her plan to run away with a 32-year-old man she met online, Fox News reports.
Speaking to WSOC-TV, Anthony Burns said one of his daughter’s friends had heard about the man prior to her disappearance.
“He told me that my daughter had been talking to a 30-year-old man for over six months who was trying to convince her to talk to him, and saying that he would be her friend and she could come to him,” her father alleged.
5. Hailey is Back with Her ‘Grateful’ Family
Shortly after her recovery, Hailey was reunited with her family, the FBI says.
According to the bureau, the family is “grateful for the outpouring of support they have received while she’s been missing, but they ask for privacy at this time to focus on their daughter.”
In a Facebook post shared yesterday, Hailey’ father shared his family’s relief.
“Today we found my starlight and after a brief hospital stay she will return to her home,” Anthony Burns wrote. “It is a blessing from God.”
It is unclear whether Wysolovski has an attorney or has entered a plea.
An FBI spokesperson says he will appear in court Monday and that additional charges could be forthcoming.