A special-needs teen missing more than a week from Dallas was found Thursday in Copper Canyon in south Denton County.
Alejandra Gonzales, 18, of Dallas, was found alive and well at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, officials said.
“She is doing fine and is back in Dallas with her family now,” said Sandi Brackeen, spokeswoman for the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.
A tip Thursday led officials to Gonzales in the 800 block of Orchid Hill Lane. A resident had reported seeing a suspicious person in the backyard of a home.
There was no word on how the girl got to Denton County, officials said.
Gonzales had been missing since leaving Sunset High School in Oak Cliff in Dallas on April 23. A search had been underway in Dallas County, then moved to Denton County on Wednesday evening after a sheriff’s deputy reported seeing her in the 600 block of Chinn Chapel Road in Copper Canyon.
The young woman had told the deputy she was walking to a nearby house, that she was fine, and to leave her alone, officials said. At the time, the deputy was responding to a call about a suspicious person and did not know she might be the missing teen from Dallas.
The deputy said the teen was uncooperative and appeared a bit disheveled, but that he had no reason to detain her.
Just minutes after leaving the girl, however, the deputy recalled the missing person’s report out of Dallas for a Hispanic teen, according to a news release.
When the deputy located the flier disseminated by Dallas police, he immediately recognized the person he had spoken to as Gonzales.
The deputy returned to where he had seen Gonzales but could not locate her, according to the statement.
Late Wednesday, a search was conducted near Chinn Chapel Road and FM2499 by Denton County Emergency Management, the sheriff’s office and local police and fire departments, officials said.
After several hours of searching, Gonzales’ family provided some of the girl’s clothing to aid K-9 search teams. Early Thursday morning, one of the search dogs tracked her scent for a quarter-mile near Chinn Chapel and Black Jack Road before losing the scent.
The door-to-door search continued Thursday morning until the teen was found, Brackeen said.
The Dallas Police Department is leading the investigation, Denton County officials said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.