PUEBLO — Hours after the Colorado Bureau of Investigation issued an endangered/missing alert to media organizations across the state for missing Pueblo teenager Ashley Stoneking, the girl was found at a hotel in Colorado Springs. Stoneking and 53-year-old Erik Garza were found at the Budget Host Motel off Sinton Rd in Colorado Springs.
Stoneking was taken to Memorial Hospital to get checked out and be put back on her medications. News5 spoke with her mother, to find out how she reacted to the situation.
When Darla Campbell heard her daughter, who had been missing for days, was found in Colorado Springs, she said she was "ecstatic and happy. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and my family's shoulders, that she's at least going to be home and safe tonight in her own bed with her family," said Campbell.
Campbell said her daughter has mental and physical disabilities. "Her mentality level is that of an 8-12 year old. So she's chronologically 16, but mentally she's delayed," said Campbell.
The charges for Erick Garza, the man police said Stoneking was with, could be more serious because of her condition. "It could be an instance of a crime of an at-risk adult," said Sgt. Franklin Ortega of the Pueblo Police Department.
Her mother said they knew of leads in Colorado Springs, and actually heard from homeless people that her daughter was seen at Memorial Park on the Fourth of July. "The gentleman she was with has been homeless for quite some time. He was homeless when we first met him when my father was working with him, and so we just had the idea of check the homeless people, the homeless camps, the soup kitchens, homeless shelters, places that they would go," said Campbell.
Now that she's been found, Campbell said the most important thing is to show her as much love as possible. "We're just going to engross her in love and let her know that we all love her and care about her and are happy that she's home and safe," said Campbell.
This is still an active investigation, so charges against Garza are being decided. News 5 will keep you updated.
The CBI's website classifies those alerts as "Media Alerts / Missing/Endangered" do not meet criteria established in statute or applicable rules for AMBER Alert, Missing Senior Citizen Alert, Developmental Disabilities Alert or Blue Alert."
As we reported with another case last October, There are four criteria–all of which must be met–before CBI will issue an Amber alert:
- An abducted child has to be under 18
- An abducted child must be in immediate danger of serious bodily harm or death
- There must be enough descriptive information available to believe that a broadcast will assist or aid in the recovery
- The activation must be requested by a local law enforcement agency or Amber designee from another state