TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 15-year-old girl reported missing last month was found by police on Tuesday downstate after she ran away from home after meeting a man online.
Authorities say Valentina Kolock ran away, and typically speaking, police would not hold a press conference to speak further about the incident. But this case generated a large buzz online on social media and shows the double-edged sword the internet can sometimes be.
Wednesday afternoon, police told the media that Kolock, who was reported missing on January 30, had been found alive, unharmed and safe downstate.
Tonawanda Police Capt. Joseph Carosi said, “This carried on for three weeks and the parents had no idea where their daughter was for three weeks… they had not heard from her. Very worrisome to say the least.”
Kolock was last seen after being dropped off at Kenmore West High School to take a mid-term exam. She never made it inside the school to take the test.
“It became incumbent on us and other police agencies that the clock was ticking and we needed to find her as quickly as possible,” Capt Carosi said.
Police shared the story about Kolock’s disappearance on their Facebook page on February 4. That post was shared nearly 10,000 times. Authorities credit social media for helping them locate the teen, but they are also warning of its dangers.
Capt. Carosi said, “It’s important that parents, as much as possible, try and keep an eye on what their children are doing online, who they’re communicating with, what sites they’re going to, what is being said. I know that it is very difficult to keep track of everything but you have to be vigilant.”
Officers say Kolock ran away from home after meeting a man online using a dating website. They would not release further information.
“She left voluntarily and there is no indication of suffering any injury or torment or being held against her will,” Capt. Carosi said.
Authorities say the man Kolock was with has not been arrested or charged with any crime. Their investigation continues.
Police did say at the press conference that Paul Swan, a man who they originally identified as someone Kolock may be in the company of, had absolutely nothing to do with this incident.