Aliyah Ann Whitehead, the 14-year-old who had been missing since March 13, has been found. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced Thursday morning via a Facebook post that Whitehead had been located in Benton County and is safe.
“UPDATE: Very good news this morning – Aaliyah Whitehead has been located in Benton County and is safe!,” the post read. “Thank you to everyone who has assisted and shared posts about Aaliyah.”
The search for Whitehead included a massive grid search of areas surrounding her home at 135 Saddletree Road east of Camden. Whitehead had been missing since approximately 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon, March 13.
Whitehead reportedly walked away from her home wearing a tie-die hoodie, black leggings, and pink and black tennis shoes. According to officials, she is about 5-feet 1-inch tall and 140 pounds, with red hair and green eyes.
MULTI-AGENCY EFFORT – A grid search for a missing Benton County teen on Tuesday, March 21, involved assistance from a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, including the Madison County Fire Department and the Collierville Police.
A missing and endangered juvenile alert was quickly issued regarding Whitehead’s disappearance. Law enforcement continues to request assistance from the public. Last week residents of Hallshire Estates and surrounding areas were asked to check surveillance and trail cameras for any footage that may show signs of her.
Tuesday’s search involved BCSO, TBI, the Benton County Rescue Squad, personnel with the Madison County Fire Department who specialize in grid searches, the U.S. Marshals, Tennessee Highway Patrol, TWRA officers, and law enforcement or other first responders from several jurisdictions, including the Collierville Police Department. Local, state, and federal agencies are involved in the investigation.
The area where Whitehead lives near Kentucky Lake is heavily wooded. The grid search conducted last Thursday, March 16, reportedly turned up no clues. Approximately 80 trained personnel searched the area that day.
On Friday, March 17, area law enforcement conducted a search at homes of Benton County’s registered sex offenders to make sure the juvenile was not with any of them. Those checks revealed no signs of Whitehead at any residences.
Whitehead is the daughter of Alicia and Will Laster. According to a March 13 social media post by her mother, she “ran away from home.” Later in the week, A. Laster posted, “Our baby still isn’t home, and we are very worried about her. We love her and desperately want her home with us. Please keep sharing her information – someone, somewhere knows something.”
Given that Whitehead is only 14, someone older than her may have helped her leave the area. Reportedly she has a strong social media presence and could have asked someone she met online for help in running away.