Missing German teenager returns home after 5 years | News | DW | 01.09.2018
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Missing German teenager returns home after 5 years

An 18-year-old woman who disappeared from southern Germany as a child more than five years ago has returned to her family. She was found in the northern Italian city of Milan and is said to be "physically well."

An 18-year-old German woman who was missing for more than five years has returned to her family, Freiburg police confirmed on Friday.

Maria H., whose surname is protected according to German privacy protocols, went missing in May 2013 with a man named Bernhard H., then 53.

"Concerning Maria, she is physically well," a Freiburg police spokesman said to the Badische Zeitung, a German newspaper. In a statement, the police said they "have no reliable information on what transpired over the last five years at this point in time."

Read more: Modern slavery in Germany: Preying on the vulnerable

The words Maria made of candles for the then missing 13-year-old Maria can be seen in front of the police headquarters.

The girl went missing at the age of 13 after meeting a man posing as a boy online

Homecoming

The woman's mother, Monika B., also confirmed that her daughter had returned after 1,944 days missing.

"Maria has been back home since last night," the woman's mother, Monika B., said in a post on Facebook. "She looked to contact her family on Facebook and very, very nice friends picked her up in Milan (Italy) last night."

Read more: 100,000 German teenagers addicted to social media, study finds

Maria H., then 13, met Bernard H. on the internet, with the man posing as a teenager. Before her disappearance, the two met several times in hotels in Freiburg. Bernard H.'s wife had already reported him to authorities for approaching minors on the internet.

The police issued an international arrest warrant for Bernard H. on the grounds of child abduction and serious sexual abuse of a child. Police had followed up on more than 1,000 leads in five years, according to the Badische Zeitung.

Police are set to debrief Maria H. about the past five years in the coming days. Authorities did not give any indication of Bernard H.'s whereabouts.

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