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Four group home runaways located in Danville
Teens left Camp Glory Road July 25
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
By KIM BARTO - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Henry County Sheriff's Office has found four teenage girls who ran away from an Axton residential group home facility July 25.
A release from the sheriff's office stated that the girls were found in Danville, but it gave no other information.
The girls were last seen at the Camp Glory Road organization at about 8:10 p.m. that night, according to the sheriff's office.
This is "a typical runaway case," and no foul play is suspected, said Lt. Kimmy Nester.
The sheriff's office supplied the following information about the teenagers:
"¢ Martina Marie Gregory, 14, from the Harrisonburg area, is described as white, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 115 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.
"¢ Kala Mae Thurman, 17, from the Pulaski area, is described as white, 5 feet 7 inches tall, 121 pounds, with brown eyes and brown/blond hair.
"¢ Shareka Nicole Cobbs, 14, from the Danville area, is described as black, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 247 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.
"¢ Sameerah Iman Ali-Hannah, 14, from the Danville area, is described as 5 feet 5 inches tall, 135 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.
Information on the teens was been entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, but the sheriff's office does not typically conduct an organized search in these cases, Nester said.
Privacy issues prevent Camp Glory Road staff from confirming that the above named girls were residents of the facility, according to Mark Early, communications director for HopeTree Family Services, which runs Camp Glory Road.
Camp Glory Road, part of the Wilderness Outdoor Opportunity Discovery Schools (WOODS) program, is a residential care facility for at-risk girls, Early said. A boys' facility is located in Craig County.
The teenagers who had been missing from the program ran into the woods after a discussion about a rule violation, Early said.
"Basically, the girls violated some of our basic rules there and had just been told they would lose privileges," he said. "That discussion was held with them, and it was time for them to go back to the cottage where they sleep."�
Instead, the girls ran away. Staff members pursued them in a car but were unable to find them.
"Within 30 minutes of when they took off, we started the process of notifying authorities and following the proper procedures," he said.
At that point, he added, the situation was turned over to local law enforcement.
The facility is considered a "least-restrictive" environment, Early said.
"We can't lock kids in their rooms; we don't have fences or surveillance cameras," he said. "That would violate our licensure regulations," which he called "tremendously strict."�
Camp Glory Road serves up to 24 girls, according to the program Web site.
Many of the residents are referred to HopeTree Family Services facilities by social services departments. Also, parents will approach them when their child has trouble in school "with truancy or behavior issues," Early said.
All locations have licensed educational facilities, he said.
HopeTree provides about $3 million a year of "benevolent care," meaning that families pay only what they can afford, Early said.
"If it's a situation we think we can help, we take them in," he said.