Christa Rogaliner, 17, who had been missing since December, was found Sunday, Feb. 1, at the home of two elderly women in Silver Spring, Md. According to Lt. Jeff Dube, public information officer for the Leesburg Police, the Loudoun County teen ran away after taking the family car, damaging it and then leaving it abandoned in Reston.
"They [the women] did not know her. What police think is that she damaged the car, took a cab from Reston to the Metro and went to Silver Spring," Dube said. "We're trying to figure out the nexus to Silver Spring. It could be that is how far she could get with the money she had."
ACCORDING TO POLICE, Christa was working weekends with the women, who are apparently mother and daughter, at a flea market. They were alerted to her location after a segment featuring her disappearance aired on "America's Most Wanted" Saturday evening, Dube said. The son of one of the women called the program after seeing the program.
Dube said no crime had been committed and that the women appeared to have "taken in Christa out of the goodness of their hearts."
He would not comment as to whether there had been family problems prior that may have led to the teen running away, but did say the police did not have any criminal contact with Christa before she disappeared. They are still talking with her in order to gather more detailed information.
"She was a runaway and I don't know how long she planned to keep this ruse up," Dube said.
CHRISTA WAS LAST SEEN by her parents Friday, Dec. 12, at 8 a.m., when she presumably left for school, according to Leesburg Police. She was later seen at Dulles Town Center Mall in Sterling at noon.
At the time, Dube said, Fairfax County Police found the car she was driving on Shaker Woods Road in Reston Saturday, Dec. 13, at approximately 11 a.m. The car was found unlocked with the keys in the ignition and with a Christmas present still in the back seat.
The Rogaliner family, which began a publicity campaign through mass e-mails, flyers and meetings, issued an e-mail statement after their daughter's return, saying in part, "We are overjoyed and want to share our heartfelt thanks to everyone that helped to make this possible. ... While we would love to speak with each and every one of you, we are taking some quiet time with her for the next few days. God has blessed us so much in bringing her home and we are taking time for her."