Missing girl found; admits to running away

Published 1:11 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A missing girl last seen at the Alabaster Walmart on Sunday has been found and has admitted to running away.

Deanna Niven, 16, of Helena was found approximately at noon Tuesday in St. Clair County.

Alabaster Police Lt. Jeff Anthony of the Criminal Investigations Unit said Niven told investigators she left on her own will.

“She made it clear that she wanted to voluntarily run away,” Anthony said at a Tuesday press conference.

Acting on tips, authorities were able to locate the silver van Niven was seen getting into on Walmart surveillance footage.

The Hoover Police Department, Moody Police Department, the U.S. Marshals and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement all worked with the Alabaster Police Department on the case.

Niven left her home on Easter at approximately 6:30 p.m., stating she was going to Walmart to develop some pictures.

After her family failed to make contact with her two hours later, they discovered her van, keys and cell phone in her van in the Walmart parking lot.

Upon news of her daughter’s finding, Cherrie Nivens, Deanna’s mother, said she was just thankful her daughter was safe and home.

“I’m very, very relieved,” said Cherrie. “It’s an answer to many, many people’s prayers both here and across the country.”

Although no charges have been filed in the disappearance, Anthony said the Alabaster Police Department could seek restitution for lost man-hours and resources.