Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Girl missing since 2016 found safe in New Mexico after TV viewer calls in tip

LUBBOCK, Texas – A 9-year-old Texas girl who has been missing since 2016 was found safe in New Mexico after a tip from a “Live PD” viewer, according to KSAT.

Mariah Martinez, who had been missing since October 2016, was found Monday night after she was featured on the A&E show on March 23. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children worked with Lubbock police and New Mexico State Police to find her.

Angeline Hartmann with the NCMEC said Amanda Martinez, the girl’s mother, disappeared with her three children when she was about to lose custody.

Lubbock police say they had issued a warrant for Martinez in October 2016, but were unable to make an arrest because of “jurisdictional restrictions.” The warrant was issued after Mariah’s brother, Jeremiah Martinez, who was 5 at the time, told Child Protective Services workers that his mother’s boyfriend had punched him in the face and threatened to kill the family by driving them into a pond, according to KCBD.

Teachers contacted CPS on Oct. 17 after the children didn’t show up at school for several days, according to the station’s report. Martinez, who had also tested positive for methamphetamine that same day, was already gone when CPS investigators went to her home Oct. 20, according to KCBD.

Authorities arrested the children’s then 27-year-old mother in January 2017 on a felony charge of interference with child custody, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Officers found two of the three missing children with Martinez, who was reportedly going to drop them off with a relative, but police said she refused to say where Mariah was.

Investigators contacted Martinez’s relatives in New Mexico, but were unable to locate Mariah until the “Live PD” viewer sent in a tip. It’s not yet clear who Mariah was with when she was found.

The Lubbock Police Department issued a statement Tuesday afternoon thanking the NCMEC for its help:

“The Lubbock Police Department is thankful that the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children continued to place this case at the top of their priority list, ensuring that Mariah return home safely.”