The family of a missing Florida teen made a tearful appeal on national TV on Thursday – asking her to reach out to them and let them know she is safe.
Caitlyn Frisina, 17, ran away from her Lake City, Florida home late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Surveillance footage captured at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina Sunday morning confirmed that she is traveling with 27-year-old Rian Rodriguez, a family friend and the boys’ soccer coach at her school, Fort White High School.
Before she left, Caitlyn wiped all of the data off of her phone, but police were able to obtain a text message she sent to a friend, indicating that she and Rodriguez may have a ‘relationship,’ authorities said. They would not say what kind of relationship that is, and no one has been charged with a crime yet. In Florida, the age of consent is 18, so if they discover the relationship is sexual, Rodriguez could face charges.
Caitlyn’s grief-stricken mother, father and little brother sat down for an interview which was aired on the Today show Thursday morning.
The family of missing Florida teen Caitlyn Frisina spoke to the Today show in an interview that aired Thursday morning. From left to right: little brother Chandler, mom Scarlet and dad Ward
Mrs Frisina says they haven’t heard from their daughter since Sunday – the longest she has ever gone without talking to her daughter
‘I miss having someone to talk to,’ little brother Chandler, left, said. ‘Just give me a call if you can’t give anyone else a call. Please’
In the interview, her father Ward said he had no idea ‘what brought this on’ and that running away is not something he would ever expect his daughter to do.
Her mom Scarlet added: ‘I can’t fathom. I don’t know. It’s breaking my heart.’
In a previous interview with WJAX, Mr Frisina said that he helped Rodriguez get his coaching job at the high school. When his daughter first went missing, he called Rodriguez but he didn’t pick up the phone.
The family hasn’t heard from Scarlet at all since she left Sunday, leaving her wiped cellphone behind.
Frisina sneaked out of her house late Saturday or early Sunday morning and is traveling with 27-year-old Rian Rodriguez, a family friend and soccer coach at her high school
Rodriguez is thought to be driving a red Mercury Sable, similar to the one pictured above
‘It feels like an eternity,’ Mrs Frisina said, tearing up.
Most heartbreaking of all was watching her little brother Chandler struggle not to cry on national television.
‘I miss having someone to talk to,’ he said. ‘Just give me a call if you can’t give anyone else a call. Please.’
Authorities have released a brief timeline of the couple’s disappearance, but the record ends on Sunday. It’s unclear where they have traveled in the three days since.
Police say Caitlyn sneaked out of her house late Saturday night or early Sunday morning through her bedroom window.
A few hours later, bank records show that she took $200 out of an ATM in St. Mary’s, Georgia.
Sunday morning, Rodriguez’s car was spotted at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina
An hour and a half later, the two were pictured together on surveillance camera stopping at another gas station in St. George, South Carolina
Before Caitlyn left home, she wiped all the data off of her cellphone. But police obtained one text she sent to a friend indicating that she and Rodriguez might have a relationship
At 3:45pm on Sunday, Rodriguez’s car was spotted outside a pawn shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina
It appears that Rodriguez was the only one to get out of the car for this trip
Authorities would not say what kind of item or items Rodriguez, right, was trying to sell at the pawn shop
Rodriguez’s car was spotted on surveillance cameras stopping at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina at 7:30am – around the time that Caitlyn’s parents woke up and noticed she was missing.
At 9am, the couple were seen for the first time on surveillance camera together, making another stop at a Pilot gas station in St. George, South Carolina.
From there, the two continued northward to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Rodriguez was seen pawning items at a pawn shop in the early evening. Authorities would not say what he was trying to sell.
Rodriguez is thought to be driving a red Mercury Sable.
After Caitlyn went missing on Sunday, her mother posted to Facebook, asking for her to reach out to them.
So far, no one has been charged with a crime in connection to Caitlyn’s disappearance. In Florida, the age of consent is 18, so if police discover that Caitlyn (pictured) and the coach had a sexual relationship, she could face charges
‘Caitlyn Morgan, Punkin, Daddy and I want you to know how very much we love you and miss you! We’re not sure why you chose to go, but know that all we care about is knowing whether or not you’re safe!!
‘We can work out any issues. We’re here with open arms praying for your safety! Please let us know that you’re ok.
‘Day or night, no matter what; no judgement, no anger…just know we’re here and we love you more than you can imagine!
‘Chandler and all of our family and friends love you, too, and are praying for you, as well!! Let someone, anyone, know that you’re ok!!!’
Rodriguez has been suspended from his position at the high school pending an investigation into his disappearance with Caitlyn.
Caitlyn’s (right) father said he helped Rodriguez (left) get the coaching job at the local high school
The Columbia County School District released the following statement on Rodriguez: ‘The Columbia County School District is cooperating fully with the Columbia County Sheriff’s office with regard to an investigation against one of our current supplemented employees.
‘The employee has been suspended pending this investigation and is no longer serving in the supplemented capacity as Head Boys’ Soccer Coach at Fort White High School.
‘Depending on the outcome of this investigation the information may be sent to FLDOE to determine if any violations of the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida or local School Board Policy have occurred.
‘Again, the employee has been suspended and will be restricted from all contact with students. No other comments will be made pending this investigation.’
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call Det. Marszalek at 386-719-2005.
Mrs Frisina pleaded with her daughter (pictured) to return in a Facebook message on Sunday. ‘Let someone, anyone, know that you’re ok!!!’ she said