IRVING — A 13-year-old girl who was reported as a runaway on December 13 returned home early Tuesday morning and was being questioned by police.
Police said Emily Ann Wicks was found at a Dallas apartment complex by a Good Samaritan who thought she looked out of place.
A wider search for Emily was prompted after family and friends failed to hear from her for a week. After releasing images and a statement of their search Monday afternoon, police said Wicks returned home just after 5 a.m.
"I'm just thanking God and thanking everyone who helped look for her," said Penelope Wicks, Emily's mother, in an early-morning interview with WFAA. "We will find the guy who did this to her."
Wicks mother told authorities the teen had been with a stranger for the last few days, but further details were not revealed. She was said to be shaken up, but in good condition.
"We just know she made a bad choice by getting into the car with someone she didn't know," Wicks said. "And then they held her and gave her to someone else. And, finally tonight, they released her and we awoke at a little after five to her banging on the door trying to get in."
Tuesday afternoon, police talked with the teen in their search for more answers.
"It appears that she went on her own free will initially," an Irving spokesman said. "However, we do not know what took place during those seven days. Parents, friends and no one else had contact with her at all, which is not normal for a 13-year-old."
Prior to her discovery, authorities said Humberto Lorenzo Corona of Irving and Todge Varsia Thurman of Dallas, both 20, were the last to be seen with the teen. They were in custody at the Irving jail charged with unlawful restraint — but not with Emily's disappearance.
It was not clear whether the men were cooperating with investigators, but in a jailhouse interview, Corona denied holding Emily against her will.
"She was free to go all the time; she never asked to leave," he said.
Police said charges could still be upgraded against the two men who were arrested, and they were looking into the possibility that there may be other persons of interest involved in the teen's extended disappearance.
Emily's mother told News 8 her daughter was last seen at a basketball game at Lamar Middle School last Monday. Wicks said Emily had wanted to get a tattoo, and the man sitting behind her said he could help.
"He said, 'If you come with me, I'll give you a tattoo,' and Emily got in the car with him and it's on school video surveillance," Wicks said.
The security cameras showed Emily leaving the school with two men in a sport utility vehicle. Her purse was discovered in the SUV.
"I think that she made a bad decision," Wicks said. "She got in that vehicle and then something terrible happened to her."
Court documents said the two men brought Emily to a vacant apartment. According to an arrest warrant, she was then brought to Corona's apartment, where his mother told News 8 the girl seemed fine.
"When a friend of theirs picked them up, the girl didn't look like she was frightened or anything, so she wasn't held against her will," the woman said.
But no one knows where Emily went from there.
Asked whether her son hurt the 13-year-old, Corona's mother said, "No, he did not."
The seventh-grader had no money and no phone.
"My gut tells me that we're going to find my child and bring her home safe," said Emily's father, Larry Wicks. "I'll never give up hope."