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Family fears for safety of 4 Farmington runaway teens

By Mark Shenefelt - | Jul 27, 2022

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This image shows four reportedly missing teenagers: Ezra Bawden, Brandon Kuhn, Catie Perez and Danica Bell. The teens were last seen Monday in Magna.

FARMINGTON — Police are looking into a case of four reported runaway teenagers, and the father of one of the teens said Wednesday that parents are worried the youths may be in danger.

Spencer Bawden said his son, another boy and two girls, all 14 or 15, apparently met at Newgate Mall in Ogden on Monday afternoon and got into a white sedan driven by an adult male. They may have been bound for Idaho or Colorado. At least one of the teens’ phones has gone offline, and the youths were last seen in Magna, according to Bawden.

“It’s incredibly scary,” he said. “You have to wonder,” he said, about the motives of an adult “who wants to take them out of state.”

Farmington Police Chief Eric Johnsen said investigators are looking into the situation, but he said there is no evidence the teens are in danger. “The bottom line is that this has been mischaracterized” as a missing-persons case, he said. “These are juvenile runaways we are dealing with. They have all been in communication with friends on social media.”

Bawden said the girls are at the most risk. “They are especially in danger,” he said. “Someone may see them as a prize worth having.”

The four were reported to police as runaways on Monday. The two boys had been reported as runaways on Sunday, but they left again Monday after returning home, according to a Farmington Police Department news release Wednesday.

“At this time there is no evidence available to indicate that these children were abducted against their will, or that they are being transported or harbored by an adult,” the release said.

Johnsen said police are using various investigative means in an effort to locate the children.

Bawden said he is frustrated by authorities’ response to the case. He said parents contacted the Utah Attorney General’s Office and were told that resources are limited to look into runaway cases. Asked about the case, the state agency issued the following statement: “The Attorney General’s office has communicated with the parents and we understand their concerns. We are currently working with all the agencies involved, who are doing all they can to investigate these runaways, and are ready to assist as necessary.”

“Nobody takes anybody seriously when you say runaways,” Bawden said.

In a flier posted on social  media, family members identified the children as Ezra Bawden, Brandon Kuhn, Catie Perez and Danica Bell. Police said anyone with information about the teens should call 801-451-5453.

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