The mother of the Florida girl treated earlier this year for chronic hiccuping reported the teenager missing to police Monday morning, about 11 hours after she was last seen.
Jennifer Mee, 15, was spotted at a friend’s house between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, about 12 hours after she left home without telling anyone where she was headed, her worried mother, Rachel Robidoux, told TODAYShow.com.
“She didn’t tell anyone at home she was leaving,” Robidoux said. “That’s not like her.”
Family members circulated fliers and called all of Jennifer’s friends Monday with the hope that she was merely staying away from home because she was upset about something relatively minor that happened Saturday night, Robidoux said.
Jennifer was upset that her cell phone was turned off because Robidoux failed to pay the bill. When the teen left the house Sunday, after Robidoux left for work, Jennifer left the cell phone and her purse behind.
St. Petersburg Police spokesman George Kajtsa said the department is treating Jennifer as a runaway. He said Robidoux reported Jennifer as missing and a presumed runaway at 7:05 a.m. EDT on Monday, and never told the responding officer that Jennifer was upset about her cell phone being turned off.
The police department assigned a detective to search Jennifer’s known hangouts and issued a “be on the lookout” advisory to police departments throughout Florida. The detective assigned to the case could not be reached for comment.
About 8 p.m. Sunday, Jennifer’s sisters saw her at the home of two friends, sisters Robidoux knows only as Dee and Christina. The home is located in St. Petersburg, about four blocks from Jennifer’s home.
Robidoux said the girls’ mother told her that Jennifer left at 8:30 p.m., perhaps a bit earlier, and was headed home. She is also expected to home before dark, her mother said.
“That’s the last time she was seen or heard from,” Robidoux said.
‘She’s really changed’Jennifer appeared on TODAY three times in February and March to discuss a bout of chronic hiccuping that struck her suddenly on Jan. 23. She tried numerous home remedies suggested in thousands of e-mails from viewers, but nothing worked.
During her last appearance on March 2, Jennifer was almost hiccup-free, and doctors were stumped as to why.
Within a week, however, the hiccups had returned and doctors began prescribing various medicines that kept the spasms at bay, for the most part, Robidoux said.
Although Jennifer had started becoming a typical rebellious teen before the onset of her medical condition, Robidoux said her daughter became more defiant in recent months.
She suspects the medicine and Jennifer’s time in the national media spotlight had an adverse affect on her personality.
“She is periodically hiccuping. She’s still on some medicine,” Robidoux said. “She’s really changed a lot, her personality, and part of it is because she was on national TV and brain medicines. She comes and goes as she pleases.”
Robidoux is hoping that Jennifer is just acting out and is not any danger.
“I am very close with Jennifer. That’s why this is really bothering me,” Robidoux said. “I have always tried to be her friend and her mother ... I wanted her to feel like she can talk to me about whatever she wanted to talk about.”
Although Jennifer was upset about her cell phone being unavailable to her on Saturday night, Robidoux does not believe her daughter was so angry that she’d run away over it.
“I can’t say if she would or she wouldn’t, but she’s never done anything like that before,” Robidoux said. “She was annoyed the fact that her cell phone was going to be turned on that night, but it wasn’t lie, ‘I hate you and I’m going to run away.’”