CONWAY, Ark. – Authorities shared new details into the disappearance and finding of a Conway teen who is now home safe after being missing since January.
Conway Police Department Chief William Tapley was pleased to share details on Wednesday’s recovery of missing teen Tanvi Marupally.
“Today is a good day,” Tapley said. “Tanvi is at home, safe and secure where she belongs.”
The chief then laid out the path taken by 15-year-old Marupally, who had been missing since last being seen outside Conway Junior High School on Jan. 17.
Tapley said Marupally walked outside the school to catch a bus that day but instead walked north until she reached railroad tracks, then began to walk north along them through the night and into the next day.
The chief said the teen heard information leading her to believe her family was going to be deported, which Tapley said led to her actions.
He said that sometime on the second day of her leaving, Marupally was able to take a train to Kansas City, where shortly after arriving she was able to find housing at a homeless shelter using a false name.
Tapley said the teen spent two months in Kansas City before deciding to move, at which point she took a bus to Tampa, Florida. The decision to go to Tampa was a random one, he noted.
The chief said it was Marupally’s “love for the library” that led to her discovery in Tampa and return to her family and home in Conway.
Marupally was using library resources in Tampa to find a job she could take for cash. While there, she was spotted by a person who thought he recognized her from a missing child notice and secretly took her picture.
The person who took the picture forwarded it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn forwarded it to the Conway police. Tapley said his department recognized the missing girl from the picture and contacted the U.S. Marshals Service and the Tampa Police Department.
Tampa police investigated, returning to the library to check security video. Tapley said while Tampa police were at the library, Marupally returned there to do more research. Police were able to speak with her before bringing her into protective custody.
That all happened Wednesday, the chief said, and the same day arrangements were made and the missing girl was reunited with her family.
“She is exactly where she should be today,” Tapley said, continuing to thank multiple agencies and Conway departments that assisted in the search.
Tapley and U.S. Marshall Jeremy Hammons spoke about Marupally’s resourcefulness.
“She was maintaining out there,” Tapley said, adding that the girl had a phone when Tampa police found her. He did not know how she had gotten the phone.
Despite this, the chief said there was no indication that Marupally received any help in her travels.