Minnesota police chief writes open letter to runaway teen

The police chief of a small town in southern Minnesota is taking an unusual approach to finding a missing teenager.

In addition to posting the traditional missing persons notice, Kenyon Police Chief Lee Sjolander also posted a letter on the department’s Facebook page written directly from himself to Audrey Lukes, a 15-year-old who left her home in Montgomery last month and never returned.

“Dear Audrey, you don’t know me, but my name is Lee and I’m a police officer here in Kenyon,” Sjolander wrote in the letter. “Officer Amy and I were told you could be in our town, so we've been looking for you because you're 15, you've been gone from home for a month and even though I don't know you, I'm worried about you.”

Audrey has been missing since February 22. Authorities believe she ran away from her home in Montgomery and may now be somewhere near Kenyon, more than 45 minutes away.

“I don’t know your past and it doesn’t matter to me,” Sjolander wrote in the letter. “What matters is your safety and if you are running from something, it’s not going away. You’ll need to handle whatever it is and we are here to help if we can.”

Sjolander said that growing up in an abusive home, he ran away more times than he can count. Eventually, he gathered his siblings and ran straight to the police station and reported the abuse.

“I was in a bad home situation,” he told Fox 9. “I ran away at the age of 13 and I took my siblings with and we ended up in foster care.”

Sjolander says he hopes Audrey will go home on her own, but if not, she is welcome to call or stop into the station, telling her he and the other officers will be there for her if she needs anything.

Audrey has brown eyes and red or auburn hair. She is 5’9” and weighs approximately 160 lbs.

Read the full letter here.