Missing Saranac Lake girls found safe in Malone

SARANAC LAKE – Two girls who ran away from their Saranac Lake homes last week are now back with their families.

Fifteen-year-old Sammi Walker and 14-year-old Brook Oakes were found safe at a home on Pearl Street in Malone around 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon, according to Malone village police officer Nathan Preve.

Family members of the two girls confirmed they had been found but said they didn’t know much about the circumstances.

“They didn’t tell me too much, but she’s back home safe and sound,” said Oakes’ father, Spencer Rushlaw of Saranac Lake.

Rushlaw said he was relieved and extended his thanks to the many people who spread the word about the two missing girls, particularly on Facebook.

“We got a call (from police) that was like, ‘You need to come pick her up,'” said Petrina Hurtado, Walker’s aunt. “I’m really relieved she’s safe. It’s tricky. It’s upsetting that she felt she had to go, but we are relieved she’s safe.”

The two girls left their respective homes on Old Lake Colby Road sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Family members said they had been spotted in Malone since then. Rushlaw said be believed they were just “hiding out” in Malone, where Walker’s boyfriend lives.

Preve said state police are handling the case and that charges may be filed against someone who was either harboring or helping to harbor the girls. The state trooper handling the investigation didn’t immediately return a message left by the Enterprise Thursday afternoon.

Walker is a ninth-grader at Saranac Lake High School. Oakes is a Saranac Lake Middle School eighth-grader but previously went to school in the Malone area.