(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The parents of a Charlotte, North Carolina teenager who disappeared more than a year ago and was found safe and returned home over the weekend are thanking authorities and calling her return a "miracle."
Hailey Burns, now 17 years old, was located in a home in Duluth, Georgia on Saturday after a Facebook tip led authorities to her. The teen, who has been diagnosed with a form of autism, went missing from her home in Charlotte, North Carolina, in May of last year, according to her parents.
Her father, Anthony Burns, called the reunion "a miracle" and told ABC affiliate WSCO-TV that he hoped his family’s story would give hope to others who are dealing with a missing loved one.
"Families need to know don’t give up no matter how much time passes,” Anthony Burns said Monday. “There is hope that you just have to keep believing that the one lead will come.”
Burns' mother said that the teen was doing well but that her ordeal had taken a toll.
"There are changes in my daughter. She is not the same person that left and that is the hardest part of this,” Shaunna Burns said Monday, adding that her daughter seems exhausted and has lost between 15 and 20 pounds.
Police rescued Hailey Burns after she contacted a woman online and told her that she was being held against her will, according to police. The teen sent the woman pictures of the home where she was being held and police said they used that to help track her.
"I got a message that said, ‘I’ve been in communication with your daughter and she’s alive and she wants to come home,’ and from there it has been like an avalanche,” Shaunna Burns told WSOC on Monday.
Authorities arrested 31-year-old Michael Ren Wysolovski, who her parents believe abducted and controlled the girl after he met her online.
Wysolovski made his first court appearance in Georgia on Monday where a judge denied him bond. It was not clear if he had obtained an attorney.
He has been charged with aggravated sodomy, cruelty to children, deprivation in the 1st degree, interference with custody and false imprisonment after police said he met the girl online and held her captive in his home.
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