Arlington police find 11-year-old runaway

ARLINGTON — Authorities, neighbors and friends of the police hunted for a runaway 11-year-old girl late into the night on Monday and Tuesday.

Police were supported by crime watch volunteers and a helicopter as they scoured a wooded area on foot behind Samantha Laticia Espinosa’s residence in the 500 block of Lemon Drive. Police said they also used night vision goggles during the search.

Samantha was found by authorities late Tuesday, hiding in the same neighborhood where she went missing, according to police. The child has a history of running away from home, but had never been gone for that length of time, said Tiara Richard, police spokeswoman.

Police said they believed officers spotted her at least once before she was finally located, but Samantha ran out of the area before the sighting could be confirmed.

"Her age and the length of time that she was missing raised some concerns," Richard said.

Samantha's mother told a police officer that her daughter ran into a wooded area in nearby Bob McFarland Park about 8 p.m. Monday and had not been seen or heard from since.

It is unclear whether the girl was staying at someone's residence or had been hiding from police outside, Richard said. An investigation continues.

Because there were no obvious signs of foul play or any signs that Samantha was abducted, the runaway report did not rise to a level where the state's Amber Alert apparatus could be activated, Richard said.

"But that does not mean that we did not do some of the same things that we would do had we sent out an Amber Alert," Richard said.

Residents in nearby neighborhoods were notified of the girl's status and there were discussions taking place as to whether more of the public should be alerted when Samantha was found, Richard said.