The parents of a Charlotte teenager who disappeared more than a year ago and was found safe and returned home over the weekend are thanking authorities, and her father called her return a "miracle."
The girl, now 17 years old, was located in a home in Duluth, Georgia, on Saturday after a Facebook tip led authorities to her. The teen, who was diagnosed with a form of autism, went missing from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, in May of last year, according to her parents.
Her father said the reunion is "a miracle" and told ABC affiliate WSOC in Charlotte that he hoped his family's story will give hope to others who are dealing with a missing a loved one.
"Families need to know, don't give up, no matter how much time passes," he told WSOC on Monday. "There is hope that you just have to keep believing that the one lead will come."
Her mother said that the teen was doing well but that her ordeal took a toll.
"There are changes in my daughter. She is not the same person that left, and that is the hardest part of this," her mother told WSOC, adding that the girl seems exhausted and has lost 15 to 20 pounds.
Police rescued the teenager after she contacted a woman online and told her that she was being held against her will, according to police. The teen sent the woman pictures of the home where she was being held, and police said they used it to locate her.
"I got a message that said, 'I've been in communication with your daughter, and she's alive, and she wants to come home,' and from there it has been like an avalanche," the teen's mother told WSOC on Monday.
Authorities have arrested 31-year-old Michael Ren Wysolovski in connection to the matter. He has been charged with aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children, deprivation in the first degree, interference with custody and false imprisonment. Police said he met the girl online and held her captive in his home.
Wysolovski made his first court appearance in Georgia on Monday, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 7. His attorney declined to comment about the case at this time.