14-Year-Old Jenna Hospedales Returned Home After Going Missing For A Week

Photo: Courtesy of Senci Jay Hospedales' Facebook.
Update: Missing teenager Jenna Hospedales was returned home safely on Tuesday night after she went missing for almost a week. Police have not yet released any details about her case and the nature of why she was missing, but have assured that she was returned safely to her family.
This story was originally published on January 14, 2020.
The New York Police Department is asking for help to locate 14-year-old Jenna Hospedales who was last seen heading home from school in Brooklyn on January 9. 
According to the NYPD, the last time anyone saw Jenna was on her way home from Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene around 3:15 p.m. on January 9 as she entered the G train station at Fulton Street and South Elliot Place. This is a route Jenna regularly takes, reports People, but as of last week, she never made it home.
On Tuesday, investigators said they do not believe Jenna was abducted, reports CNN. The NYPD describes the investigation as “active and ongoing.”
“She’s never gone missing,” Jenna’s mother Janelle Hospedales told The Cut. According to her, the police appear to be treating the case as a possible runaway situation. But, Hospedales believes running away is completely out of character for Jenna. Since Jenna's disappearance, her family has posted thousands of flyers around their neighborhood and concerned neighbors reportedly joined in to help put up flyers.
“She is not a child who is super on social media. She’s not a child that dates. She’s not a child that has a wild side,” Jenna’s cousin Crystal Hospedales told local news station WCBS. “She has never left home, so we are extremely concerned.”
The day she went missing, NYPD’s 77th precinct shared a photo of Jenna on Twitter asking anyone who might have information about her or her whereabouts to contact them. Jenna is described as being approximately 5’8” tall, weighing 118 pounds, with a thin build, brown eyes, dark complexion, and black hair, according to the NYPD. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a black jacket, and carrying a gray book bag.
Refinery29 asked the NYPD about the status of Jenna's case and whether she is being considered a runaway, a potential victim of kidnapping, or if they were pursuing both options equally. The NYPD did not respond by press time.
A child is considered missing if they are under 18 and their parents or guardians do not know where they are; however, children of color are disproportionally more likely to be labeled as runaways, Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation told CNN. Because investigators believe the child left voluntarily, often Amber Alerts are not issued and media attention fades quickly if it picks up the story at all.
According to a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, only 20% of missing person cases in the United States involving a black person are covered by the news. The FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database's most recent data lists 424,066 missing children under 18. About 37% of those children are Black.
"There's a sense of distrust between law enforcement and the minority community," Wilson told CNN. But, Wilson and other leaders who have spoken out on the crisis of missing Black girls in the U.S. feel that speaking out and sharing stories is the most important first step to stopping what could easily turn into an epidemic.
One such story is that of missing 16-year-old, Shemika Hill in St. Louis, MO. According to Shemika's mother, Paula Cosey Hill, on December 28, 2008, Shemika's spent the evening watching movies with her cousins. When everyone awoke the next morning, Shemika was gone. Police were called, but they quickly dismissed the case. They believed that because the door to the family's home was unlocked, Shemika must have run away. Police ultimately decided to not launch a search for the missing teen.
Whoopi Goldberg took a moment on The View to amplify awareness surrounding the ongoing investigation into Jenna's disappearance. Goldberg shared a brief summary of the situation as well as Jenna’s photo and description.
“I hope she comes home,” Hospedales told WCBS. “That’s all I want. I just want my baby home.”
This is an ongoing story. Refinery29 has reached out to the NYPD and Hospedales' family for further information and will update this as we know more.
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