Missing Aiken 15-year-old returns home to family

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 2:02 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 6:14 PM EST
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - An Aiken County family was searching for their 15-year-old daughter who suffers from epilepsy.

Elena Hinson was reported missing on Wednesday. On Friday evening, the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office announced she was located and is back with her family.

Unfortunately, many kids like Elena are reported missing or listed as runaways every week, and not every case gets the same treatment.

We sat down with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office to learn more about how law enforcement investigates cases involving missing children.

Elena’s birthday is Feb. 10, and instead of celebrating, her family searched for her.

Laney Hinson is her dad. He said, “Going door to door and just asking anybody we can.”

She left her home on Oak Dale Drive early Wednesday. Her mother dropped her off at 7:15 a.m. at Midland Valley High. Security footage from the school shows she was last seen in a white car going toward Duncan Road.

Law enforcement says footage they won’t release shows she willfully got into the vehicle, and because of that, they investigate this differently than an abduction.

Captain Eric Abdullah with the sheriff’s office said: “When we have someone who has ran away, we typically don’t do any runaway notifications, unless as the investigation progresses, then notification procedures will be implemented.”

Amber Alerts are only issued if they meet a list of requirements. One of those is abduction. But Aiken County says it doesn’t mean this case is of any less significance.