Teen's messages suggest gang-associated apartment is runaway hiding spot

Teen's messages suggest gang-associated apartment is runaway hiding spot

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Four teens that recently walked away from the Carrington Youth Academy in East Cleveland have been located.

On Tuesday, WOIO reported Lyric Watters, 15, had been missing since Saturday. She returned to the academy at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Sources said Daysia Thorpe, 15, was also one of the missing teens.

Before she was located, her mother, Tanasia Edwards, said she didn't know how to feel.

"I don't know how to react because we don't know if your child is dead or alive. It's a feeling I can't explain," she said.

Thorpe had been active on social media, telling her father she was staying at an apartment with gang members. Those message suggested the apartment was a hiding spot for all of the missing teens.

Carrington Youth Academy's state license is current and the center does a lot of good work in Ohio. They help treat kids with emotional and mental issues and return them to their homes. It's a residential treatment center that contracts with Juvenile Court Systems.

They only have a few complaints filed, including one that mentions a potential issue with AWOL children.

A statement released by the academy Thursday reads, in part: "When our interventions fail and youth unfortunately make the poor choice to depart our care, we follow a clearly defined protocol to collaborate with local law enforcement and legal guardians within 24 hours."

It should be noted the facility isn't lock-down in nature, and employees can't restrain clients.

"They need to adapt a restraint or a restraint policy or resort to locking down the facility," said Edwards.

The academy's Thursday statement goes on to say the kids they deal with aren't but, they're dealing with problems caused by those around them.

"They've had a life that none of us can comprehend," it says. "They're youth dealing with emotional scars that require a supportive therapeutic environment to help them be successful in life. I don't know that adults always know how to ask for help -- a child certainly does not. The way a child tells us they need help is by their behavior. Our youth often make poor choices, but our role is to be there and be supportive in their daily treatment.  There's a difference between being cared for -- and truly feeling cared about. Our kids experience that difference at Carrington and that is very powerful. It does not prevent all voluntary youth departures, but it minimizes this risky behavior. Daily, we stress the consequences of poor choices and the dangers of leaving our care -- for the vast majority of our clients (those who engage the program and move on quickly to a step down program or foster family), the advice resonates."

Follow Cleveland 19 News:  

Download the Cleveland 19 News app

Copyright 2016 WOIO. All rights reserved.