Nov. 16, 2005 – Sydnei Hughes, 16, was found Tuesday night in Miami after she and Miriam Perez, 16, hopped a Jet Blue plane from JFK Airport in New York to Fort Lauderdale Saturday. Sydnei left her mother a note Friday that she was running away from home.
"As a family, we're extremely thankful," her father, St. Thomas-born Jeffrey A. Hughes Sr., said Wednesday.
He said that his daughter and Miriam are still in Miami while he and Miriam's parents work out the details of getting them home.
"Sitting in a juvie center for a day or two will do her well," Hughes said, referring to the juvenile detention center.
The two girls are in the custody of the Miami Police Department.
He said he hasn't talked to his daughter because he's angry with her and wants to cool off first.
He said he hopes this experience will teach her a lesson. Hughes said when he first talked about his daughter's disappearance that she wasn't
going to school and had failed all her courses.
Hughes said their tickets were paid for by Miriam's boyfriend, a 20-year-old man who appeared to be running an operation in Miami.
"The place where they were had a lot of drugs and prostitution," Hughes said.
Hughes said police were able to locate the man's home through a phone number used when he paid for the ticket.
He said it remains unclear whether the man will be charged with any crime because it may turn out that the girls got to the airport by themselves.
Hughes said he was also surprised that the girls were able to get on the plane without questioning by Jet Blue staff. However, Jet Blue's Web site indicates that children are considered unaccompanied minors only
until they are age 11.
He said police are stilling looking into the details of Sydnei and Miriam's trip to Miami. However, he said it would be easy for Sydnei to
get to JFK Airport because she lived nearby with her mother.
Hughes said he suspects the girls took a cab or a bus from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami.
He said that since news of Sydnei's disappearance circulated, he's heard from many people. He said one was a single mother in St. Thomas whose daughter disappeared Monday. Fortunately, she was found before the day's
He said that he's learned from this experience that he needs to be more involved in his daughter's life. He said Sydnei's older sister was doing fine, so he thought Sydnei was doing equally well.
And he said that he hopes that others reading about his problem with Sydnei will know that they are not alone when it comes to dealing with
their children's problems.
"Don't be embarrassed," he said.
A New York City Police Department detective, he said he learned that many children in Sydnei's situation are not found.
He urged everyone to take a look at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Web site at www.ncmec.org to see if any of the
missing might be living in their neighborhood.
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