SOUTH JORDAN (ABC 4 News) - Missing for two days -- wearing nothing to protect her from the frigid cold, and leading family members to worry for her safety -- Brooklyn Gittins was finally found safe late Thursday after she got to a telephone and called for help, authorities said.
At approximately 11:30 pm Thursday, Gittins, 13, telephoned her grandmother from a Wal Mart store in South Jordan -- which borders the teen's home town of Herriman.
"She had called her Grandma there," says Brooklyn's grandfather Craig Hiller. "The emotions of relief, comfort, knowing that she was home is overwhelming."
The grandmother immediately contacted authorities and informed them of the girl's location. When officers arrived, they found Gittins still dressed in the same pajamas she had been wearing prior to her disappearance on Tuesday night.
"She was in pajamas, a t-shirt and no coat, no shoes and no eye glasses," says Hiller.
And while the search for Brooklyn is over, the sheriff says the investigation of what happened is just beginning.
"It is clear that we have more work to do in this case," says Sheriff Jim Winder.
Police say Brooklyn left through her bedroom window to met someone.
"We believe that person is someone who she is aware of," says Winder.
But over the past two days Gittins told police she was held against her will.
And the sheriff says if true that's where a crime was committed."
"13 year old children who walk out is one thing but a 13-year old who walks out and are picked up and transported and held for several days is a different kettle of fish," he says.
Winder says they have a person of interest that they are seeking and would like that person to come forward.
Brooklyn ran away from home six months ago, but her grandfather says it was nothing like this.
It was of course a little bit strange that she would disappear like this," says Hiller. "But we're very thankful that she showed up and is in good shape."
Brookyln's disappearance set off a massive search early Wednesday, both on the ground and from the air. Because she left home wearing only pajamas, the girl's family was especially concerned about her staying warm in freezing temperatures. When she left, Brooklyn was also without shoes, a coat and her eyeglasses. More than 1,000 volunteers and dozens of authorities spent Wednesday and Thursday searching for the teen.
Authorities say they weren't immediately certain of the sequence of events, but they promised on Friday that if Brooklyn was indeed kidnapped, they will find the suspect or suspects.
Officials also believe that whoever abducted Brooklyn most likely saw local media reports on her disappearance, and felt pressured to release her.