O'Donnell's 17-year-old daughter Chelsea was recovered yesterday with a New Jersey man who has an alleged criminal past

By Lydia Price
Updated August 19, 2015 08:15 PM
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On Wednesday afternoon, Rosie O’Donnell posted a string of Tweets referencing the alleged criminal past of Steven Sheerer, who PEOPLE has confirmed housed her daughter Chelsea for a week leading up to a frantic public plea by O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s allegations against Sheerer stem from a 2012 Barnegat-Manahawkin Patch article – the link to which she has since pinned to the top of her Twitter profile – in which New Jersey’s Barnegat Township Police Department Lt. Keith Germain confirms that “Sheerer was charged with third-degree possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, third-degree possession of heroin, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.”

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As for the circumstances of Chelsea’s discovery, a spokesman for the Ocean County Police Department tells PEOPLE the precinct received a call around 6 p.m. Tuesday night and sent an officer to investigate after they were able to triangulate Chelsea’s location.

According to police, the officer “knew something was up. He could tell something was off with Sheerer. His behavioral cues were off. He could tell he was hiding something and was nervous.”

The officer “put two and two together and went into the house. He explained to him he wasn’t leaving.” When the officer’s search reached the attic, he found Chelsea: “She was hiding up there,” confirms the OCPD spokesman. “She cooperated very well. … She came down and we brought her to the police station. Our role is making sure she’s happy, health and safe.”

Though it’s unclear exactly how 17-year-old Chelsea and met Sheerer, 25 (one source tells PEOPLE the pair met online), the OCPD spokeman says, “We are familiar with Steven,” and confirms that Sheerer has been arrested for heroin possession in the past (though he could not confirm whether Sheerer had been charged).

O’Donnell was “very thankful,” says the spokesman. “She reached out to us personally and thanked us for finding her daughter. She really appreciated everything we did. We don’t always get thank yous from people so to get it from Rosie when she is dealing with something that is very difficult and dealing with it so publicly, that means a lot.”

Says the O’Donnell source: “Rosie is very concerned about the guy [Chelsea] was found with. Rosie is extremely concerned about everything and is trying to figure out what to do next.”

With reporting by CAITLIN KEATING, EMILY STROHM and CHARLOTTE TRIGGS