FOUND: 16-year-old Briana Bernal

Briana Bernal of LaVerkin returned home after she was reported missing Feb. 22, LaVerkin, Utah, Feb. 22, 2017 | Photo courtesy of the LaVerkin Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Five days after 16-year-old Briana Bernal was reported missing and being a potential runaway, police learned Sunday she had returned home.

Read More: Missing: 16-year-old Briana Bernal

LaVerkin Police Sgt. Amber Crouse confirmed Wednesday that the teen is back home with her family. Bernal’s mother reportedly told a Washington County Sheriff’s deputy Sunday afternoon that her daughter was home.

No other information on the teen’s whereabouts since she was reported missing or details surrounding her return were released by the family to police, Crouse said,

“Our main concern is that they are returned home safely to their family, and that they are no longer missing,” Crouse said of the once missing teenager and any others reported missing.

Bernal was originally reported to be missing Wednesday, Feb. 22.

When a child goes missing

According to information obtained from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement, federal law requires that details about the child be entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also known as NCIC.

For those teens who are reported missing in Utah, the name of the youth is listed in NCIC as well, Crouse said. That way, if a teen is reported missing in St. George and is then located by police in New York, those officers will see that report on NCIC and advise authorities in St. George of the youth’s whereabouts.

“Each case is different, depending on the circumstances and how much information the family provides, such as if the teen left a note, or left voluntarily, or other details that can help the officers,”  Crouse said, adding, “There are many variables here.”

Utah’s missing children

To date, there are 74 missing people listed on the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Clearinghouse, which assists in multiple areas and functions including the coordination of investigations of missing adults and children.

The department’s Clearinghouse is responsible for training law enforcement and the public in the use and purpose of the AMBER Alert system, of notifying Utah Vital Statistics to flag birth certificates of those individuals who are born in Utah and reported missing, as well as assisting other agencies in locating and recovering missing people.

There are 21 missing Utah children listed on the Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website with cases going back to 1964 when 15-year-old Reed Taylor Jeppson left his Salt Lake home to take his dogs for a walk. Neither Jeppson nor his animals were ever seen again.

The most recently reported, unsolved missing person case in the St. George area is 18-year-old Sebastian Gage Armes. He was last seen on Feb. 10, 2017, at the St. George Target retail store at around 11:30 a.m.

Read more: MISSING: 18-year-old Sebastian ‘Gage’ Armes

Missing children in the U.S. 

In 2016 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted law enforcement and families with more than 20,500 cases of missing children, according to information obtained from the organization’s website. 

Last year alone, there were nearly half a million missing children entries in NCIC.

That number represents all reports of missing children, and not necessarily the actual number of missing children. If a child is reported missing or as a runaway multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn, amended or updated it would also be reflected in the total.

The Center stated there is “no reliable way to determine how many total children are actually missing in the U.S., as many children are never reported missing.”

Over the last 32 years the organization has received more than 4 million calls, has circulated billions of photos of missing children, assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 232,000 missing children and facilitated training for more than 320,000 law enforcement, juvenile justice and healthcare professionals.

The organization’s Team HOPE volunteers have provided resources and emotional support to more than 58,000 families of missing and exploited children.

Since the organization’s inception to date, 868 children have been successfully recovered as a result of the AMBER Alert program, including 40 recoveries credited to the wireless emergency alert program.

The Center’s CyberTipline also provides the public and electronic service providers (ESPs) with the ability to report online (and via toll-free telephone) instances of online enticement of children for sexual acts, extra-familial child sexual molestation, child pornography, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the Internet.


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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • comments March 2, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Parents need to keep their teenies under control. Teenage runaways are not a newsworthy item.

  • .... March 2, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Well that’s just your opinion Bob I’m sure her parents don’t care what you think.

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