Missing Tucson teen found safe in Mexico
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The search for a former Altar Valley coach who deputies believe ran away with a then 15-year-old girl is over. Both found in Mexico. Todd Hezlitt is in custody. The minor, Brooke White, is safe and will soon be back in Tucson.
Blake White, Brooke's older brother waited for 57 days, wondering if he'd ever see his sister again.
"I feel kind of anxious to just get her home and just have her here," White said. "I want my best friend back."
The manhunt for the man she traveled with former Altar Valley coach Todd Hezlitt was intense.
"There were leads all over the country," said Det. Gerard Moretz, with the Pima County Sheriff Department's Crimes Against Children Unit.
All clues led south of the border to Mexico, to Mazatlan. In the end, it was Brooke herself who reached out to her family via Facebook.
"At first we weren't sure it was her, we thought maybe it was someone giving us a hard time," White said.
It turned out to be Brooke and she needed help.
"I then got another phone call from her," White said. "She was trying to get into the Consulate in Mexico, but she was having trouble getting in."
Brooke made it to safety and will be home, reunited with her brother and the rest of her family by the weekend. 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked White how much he's looking forward to his sister's return.
"I can't explain what I'm feeling," White replied. "It's been something that I've thought about for the last 8 weeks.
Meanwhile, the Pima County Sheriff's Department is anxious to have Hezlitt back in custody and anxious to learn how a former coach pulled off being on the run.
Benito asked Det. Moretz, "Does it surprise you how long they were on the run?" He replied, "Certainly makes me wonder how they found resources, and just the sheer determination they had to flee to another country."
White's family is working hard to bring Brooke home. She needs an expedited passport. The family tells 9OYS they have purchased her flight home. She should be back in Tucson on Saturday.
As for Hezlitt, the U.S. Marshalls are coordinating with Mexican authorities to bring him back to Pima County. The County Attorney's office will determine if more charges will be filed. Hezlitt is facing two counts of sexual conduct with a minor.