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Family desperate to bring home Screven County teen

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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NEWINGTON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - You’ve seen her face, you know her name. The case of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has us looking into how missing person cases are handled here at home.

“I don’t want her to think that no one cares,” said Catrina Franklin.

A local 14-year-old has been missing for four months and her family is desperate to bring her home.

The family of Sakina Hannah says ever since she went missing, her aunt has posted all over social media trying to find her. But we found disappearances like Sakina’s aren’t as uncommon as we would like to think. And the family tells us they just want this case to be taken seriously.

Franklin shows off her niece’s paintings. She has these to hold on to but the artist is gone.

“I want Sakina Hannah to know that her auntie and her family loves her, and we want you home,” she said.

Sakina was in foster care when she went missing. According to the incident report from the Screven County Sheriff’s Office, she was identified as a possible runaway. The family left asking that the case is treated the same, regardless.

“Because if it was your child and your little beating heart, you would not say, ‘Oh she’s just a runaway,’” she said. “What they need to know, and what many people need to know, is the part of the brain that is responsible for making adult decisions is not completed.”

The FBI sorts missing people into different categories. Law enforcement takes into account if the person is a juvenile, if they have a disability, or possibly if they left willingly. According to 2016 data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 90 percent of the cases they assisted on were endangered runaways.

2016 Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
2016 Data from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children(WRDW)

“I think it’s just that, when people do go missing, we think ‘oh they’re just a runaway’ then we really lose that critical first 24, 48, or even 72 hours to really find them,” said Dr. Candace Griffith, assistant professor of criminal justice at AU.

“It shouldn’t matter why they ran away, or why they’re missing,” she said. “The fact is, somebody has reported them missing, let’s investigate this.”

And for this family, Sakina is more than just a statistic.

And obviously one of the big factors we saw in the Gabby Petito case was the way social media was involved in bringing awareness to the case and putting some pieces together. Social media really does play a huge part and of course, every single one of these cases is different with different circumstances surrounding their disappearance, but the important thing is to make sure people who are reported missing are safe.

So if you’d like to help spread the word about Sakina’s case, you can visit our Facebook page and share this story. And if you want to bring awareness to cases nationwide, visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.

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