A 13-year-old Southern California girl who ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage in Pakistan has been taken into protective custody by child welfare authorities, police said on Thursday.
Jessie Marie Bender, who vanished from her home in the early morning hours of February 22, was found on Wednesday at a motel in a nearby community, where she had been hiding with the help of an uncle, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Roxanne Walker said.
The middle school student, who was missing for eight days, was physically unharmed.
“She ran away because she didn’t want to go to Pakistan. She was afraid,” Walker told Reuters.