NEWARK, Ohio (AP) – A girl reported missing in California nine years ago was found in Ohio, living under a different name with her mother, authorities said.

Prosecutors said a woman recognized the girl’s picture from the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and called sheriff’s deputies.

She was found Friday in nearby Johnstown, in central Ohio, authorities said.

The girl, Vanesa Brancheau, was 5 when she and her mother, Sheri Lyn Taylor, were reported missing in 1995 from the Los Angeles community of Woodland Hills, the county sheriff’s office said in a statement released Friday.

The girl is now 13 and attending school using the name Ariel Rose Wiggins, the sheriff’s office said.

Sheriff’s Capt. Rod Mitchell said Thursday that Taylor indicated that she and her husband had been fighting for custody of the girl at the time of the disappearance.

“She’s saying there was a custody battle and she couldn’t afford attorney fees and she was afraid of him,” he said.

No charges have been filed, and Mitchell said more investigating was needed.

“We don’t want to necessarily paint the dad as the good guy,” he said.

Mitchell said Taylor and the girl had been in Licking County for about three years with Taylor’s boyfriend. Taylor has also lived in Florida and Missouri.

The father, David Brancheau, who officials said now lives somewhere in Michigan, has been to Licking County, but Mitchell did not know if he had seen the child. Phone messages left at listings for that name in Michigan were not immediately returned.

A Los Angeles police spokesman said he had no information on the case.

Taylor could not be reached for comment. There was no listing for her in Johnstown.

The girl was placed in foster care Tuesday after a hearing in Licking County Juvenile Court.



On the Net:

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.missingkids.com

AP-ES-07-15-04 1258EDT



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.