San Francisco

‘She's Still a Baby': Pacifica Father Seeks Help in Finding Missing 14-Year-Old Daughter

A Pacifica father is asking for help in finding his 14-year-old daughter who didn't return home from school two months ago. 

Aaron Placencia last saw his daughter Tyla-Ann on the morning of Sept. 27. The teen attends Oceana High School, where she is the newly-elected class president.

“We were having a quick conversation about responsibilities and keeping grades maintained,” Placencia said, his voice breaking. “She was in a hurry because she was running late. I haven't heard from her since.” 

Placencia filed a missing persons report with the Pacifica Police Department, which is treating the case as a voluntary runaway. Police have classified the case as a high priority because of the girl’s age, Capt. Joe Spanheimer said.

Tyla-Ann has long brown hair. She is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 127 pounds. Police believe she may be in San Francisco or San Mateo County, trying to raise money for a trip to Ohio.

“In this particular case, it seems that she doesn’t want to be found,” Spanheimer said. “She’s going to different friends or acquaintances’ houses, using social media accounts to contact people.” 

Police were unable to comment further since this is an ongoing investigation but said that people who Tyla-Ann has stayed with since September haven't been forthcoming about her whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Placencia worries that his daughter may be the victim of human trafficking. He said his mind has been racing with frightening possibilities since Tyla-Ann disappeared. He also said she left her phone at the house, which he described as "out of character" for the young girl.

“She’s only 14 years old,” Placencia said. “She’s still a baby. When she fixes herself up, she could pass as an 18- or 19-year-old girl. My daughter has an innocent heart, but someone could have gotten into her head and changed her thinking process.” 

To raise awareness about his daughter's case, Placencia has been working with East Bay foundation Love Never Fails, which fights against human trafficking. Vanessa Russell, the director and founder of the organization, told NBC Bay Area that it's dangerous to underestimate the seriousness of runaway youth cases, citing statistics from the Department of Justice.  

"Children don't plan on being exploited and abused when they run away but it's a harsh reality," Vanessa Russell said. "Within 48 hours, one-third of runaway youth will be recruited for human trafficking. That alone is reason enough to fervently search for a missing loved one." 

Placencia vowed to continue his search through the holiday season, though he hopes it won't be necessary. 

“It was so hard on Thanksgiving without her,” he said. “If anyone knows anything, I’m following all leads.”

Police are asking people with information about the case to call 650-738-7314.

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