Jun 12, 2016

What happened to Gracie Toelle?

It's been approximately three months since missing teenager Gracie Toelle has been seen by her loved ones, but they are holding on to hope that they will find her safe and alive. Whenever I hear about cases like this one, I can't help but feel a bit divided within myself. On one hand, I too want to hold on to hope that a missing person is reunited with his or her family. However, the reality is that this just doesn't get to be the outcome in many cases that I cover. Does that mean this missing 14-year-old girl is the victim of foul play? Not necessarily, but it's always a possibility whenever a person (child or otherwise) goes missing without a trace. I haven't covered this case from the beginning, but I have been paying attention to it, and allowing myself to have time to form an opinion on what I think may have happened to the girl. The following post is a collection of my thoughts on the disappearance of this missing teen.

Gracie Toelle vanished on March 16 of this year, from her family home in North Platte, Nebraska. According to the North Platte Telegraph, the 14-year-old girl disappeared at around 3:30 in the afternoon, while taking out the household's trash. Her family says that she seemed to "just disappear," and hasn't made any contact with them since she walked out of the home that day. To make matters worse, a blizzard had hit the area not long after her disappearance, which has served as another source of worry for the distressed Nebraska family.

It should be noted that Gracie Toelle was homeschooled at the time of her disappearance, so it's hard to say if anybody had actually seen the teen (outside of her immediate family) before she was reported missing. Her family believes that she may have found herself in some kind of trouble (possibly due to her use of social media) but authorities in Northe Platte believe that there is evidence that she could have run away from home. Nonetheless, Gracie has not reached out to her family since the last day she was seen, nor has she appeared to display any online activity -- and she is known to be a frequent user of social media.

Is it possible that this naive homeschooled teenager's use of social media could have landed her in the hands of a predator? Of course it is. In fact, it's safe to say that anybody (with foul intentions or not) would be foolish to help this 14-year-old girl run away from home. If she is a runaway, and she is safe and alive, then that would mean that someone is harboring her, possibly aware that she is being sought by police and her worried parents. At the absolute very least, the person(s) helping this missing teen stay under the radar is committing a crime. However, its hard not to consider the possibility that she is being held against her will, or even worse: She could no longer be alive.

Teenagers run away from home all the time, and just because one has never done it before doesn't mean there isn't going to be a first time. However, most 14-year-old girls are absolutely unable to survive on their own for at least three months without coming home and giving up on the whole "running away from home" fantasy. Gracie Toelle is a homeschooled teenager from Nebraska. She is an avid user of social media. The elements surrounding this case make it easy to see why there are fears that she was lured away from home by an internet sex predator.

Hopefully authorities in North Platte take this case more seriously than they appear to be doing, judging by their own comments in news articles. Even though this young girl could be a runaway, she could also be in grave danger, if it isn't already too late.
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