Mom begs Destiny to come home
The worried mom of a schoolgirl missing for 12 days yesterday told the 14-year-old that she was “dearly” loved and begged her to come home.
Matasha Winters urged teenager Destiny Winters to return after she left a Government care home without permission on January 10.
Ms Winters said: “Let her know that I’m there for her.
“I love her very dearly. Your family loves you ... please come home.”
A friend explained that Ms Winters had seen Destiny last Saturday.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said he and the police were aware the mother and daughter had seen each other at the weekend and that Ms Winters had not alerted the authorities.
But Mr Caines said: “It is not our intention to make this a contentious issue. And, above all, right now the BPS’s priority is to locate Destiny as soon as possible.”
Lisa James, a friend who is supporting the family, explained yesterday that Ms Winters saw Destiny for only five minutes on Saturday, but by the time the mother thought to contact the authorities, Destiny was gone, which added to her distress.
Ms James added that Ms Winters had contacted the care facility in the past if Destiny had arrived at her home and that the teenager had “complied”.
Police renewed their appeal to find Destiny yesterday and repeated their concern that there was “potential imminent risk” to the CedarBridge Academy pupil.
She was spotted on Sunday when it was believed she travelled in and out of St George’s by bus and appeared to be with an older man.
Destiny was also seen with an unknown man in the Flatts Village area at around noon on January 14.
Ms Winters, 49, said: “Destiny needs to be found.”
She told any older man who might be with her daughter: “She’s very young, she’s vulnerable. As the adult, we’re pleading with you to make the right choice and send her home.”
Ms Winters said her daughter first went to the government-run care home last October. It is at least the sixth time the teenager has gone missing from the home in less than two months.
Ms Winters said: “My thing is, what are we going to do when we get Destiny back?”
“We’re going to place her back down there, only for her to do the same thing.”
Police have issued repeated appeals for help to find Destiny over the past two weeks. They explained on Monday that uniformed patrols made daily checks on all the areas that she was known to frequent.
A police spokesman said yesterday: “The teen remains unaccounted for and despite searching several locations this morning, she was not located by police.
“However, efforts to confirm her whereabouts are ongoing.”
He added: “The public is reminded that harbouring a juvenile is an offence punishable under the law.” The news sparked a member of the public to offer a $500 reward for information that led to the safe return of the teenager.
Ms James said the teenager’s actions were not simply bad behaviour.
She added: “I think there’s more to it than just she’s defying the rules.
“She doesn’t know how to express herself, because I’ve had talks with her and she has been defiant with me as well ... she’s reacting, because she wants to understand that you understand.”
Ms James also asked members of the public to be careful about how they expressed opinions about the situation.
She said: “As a community I would like everybody to be very mindful that this is a very sensitive situation and we need to be very mindful of how we approach this on social media.”
Sheelagh Cooper, a children’s welfare campaigner who also knows the family, added: “If there are two takeaways from this, one has to be to underscore the need for representation of children.
“The second is a desperate need for a local therapeutic treatment facility for young people.
“Yes, it may be expensive but look at the price we have paid for not having one.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs said last night that when a child was put under the care of the director of the Department of Child and Family Services, individual case plans, including any necessary therapeutic services, were drawn up with the child in mind.
She added: “While it is inappropriate to comment on a specific child in the care of the director, we are constantly assessing every aspect of the operation of our programmes to ensure that we are providing support to the children, meeting their emotional needs and preserving their safety.”
Destiny was said by police to be brown complexioned, about 5ft 6in tall and weighing 130lb, with short, curly hair dyed black.
She was wearing a black rain jacket, shorts and black Nike sneakers when last seen.
Destiny is known to frequent areas of Pembroke including Fentons Drive, Parsons Road, St Augustine Hill, Middle Town, One Way Deepdale and The Glebe Road.
Anyone with information which could help trace her should contact police on 295-0011 or her care home on 292-3699.
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