Search for teen likely with 27-year-old coach expands up East Coast
Caitlyn Frisina reported missing; Fort White High soccer coach suspended
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – As the family of a 17-year-old Fort White girl missing since Sunday is passing out flyers and sharing photos and information on social media, law enforcement efforts to find her and the 27-year-old high school soccer coach she was seen with has expanded.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a missing child alert Tuesday for Caitlyn Frisina as surveillance photos obtained by the Sheriff's Office are believed to show her and Rian Rodriguez in Georgia and another unnamed state.
Deputies and the school district believe Caitlyn, who plays soccer at Fort White High School, is with Rodriguez, the school's head boys soccer coach.
Authorities believe Caitlyn left her home of her own accord -- through a bedroom window in the middle of the night -- and footprints leading away from her home indicate she was alone at the time. But because she is a minor and there's a 10-year age difference between her and Rodriguez, authorities are concerned for her safety.
“We’re concerned because she’s underage, she’s a juvenile and she needs to be home with her parents," Columbia County Sgt. Murray Smith said.
Caitlyn’s friends said she met Rodriguez when he worked as a referee at her soccer games before he was hired as Fort White High School's soccer coach. School district officials have suspended Rodriquez from the job at pending the investigation.
"He's a family friend," Caitlyn's mother, Scarlet Frisina, told Inside Edition. "We've known him for several years through the soccer and in the school and everything."
Deputies said Caitlyn wiped her cellphone before leaving home sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, and withdrew $200 from an ATM at a Pilot gas station on St. Marys Road in St. Marys, Georgia, on Sunday.
According to the missing person report, a friend told investigators that Caitlyn sent her a text message, indicating there may a relationship between the 17-year-old and Rodriguez.
Authorities believe the two could be traveling north on Interstate 95 or other highway in a red 2001 Mercury Sable with Florida tag number Z04CSC.
VIEW/PRINT: Missing child alert for Caitlyn Frisina
"Once a missing person report is written, police will then enter that into the NCIC, National Crime Information Center, database," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. "Now that information goes out all over the country in case they come into contact with that person."
The Sheriff's Office said Caitlyn has family in Pennsylvania and New York state and Rodriguez has family in Canada. There are currently no criminal charges pending against Rodriguez, but he could be charged with interference with custody of a child. If located, Caitlyn would be returned to her parents' custody in Columbia County.
"They’ve made a minor mistake," Murray said. "That’s nothing that we can’t deal with locally, but if they continue going, no telling where it heads. It’s just best for them if they come home.”
The Sheriff's Office has set up a special hotline to take tips on the case -- 877-419-0934 -- and has scheduled a 4 p.m. Wednesday news conference with the sheriff and Caitlyn's parents. Deputies said it could be held sooner if there are major developments.
Frisina, told News4Jax on Monday night that her daughter's disappearance has been devastating for her and her husband. She made an emotional plea, saying she just wants to know her daughter is safe -- wherever she is.
"We don't care why she left. We don't care what's happened," Frisina said. "We just want to know that she's safe."
Frisina described her daughter as a good, all-American girl. She said Rodriguez coached Caitlyn in the past, and he's a longtime family friend.
"She's intelligent. She's athletic. She has a big heart," the mother said. "We just can't imagine what in the world is going on."
Frisina also hoped to get a message out to her daughter.
"We want you to let us know that you’re OK. We want you to let someone know that you’re OK," she said. "We want to hear your voice, baby girl. And we want you to come back home."
Neighbors and friends are doing everything they can to support Caitlyn's family and help in the search effort.
"Our soccer family is really close. We play together. We have dinner together. The kids are always spending the nights at each other’s houses, so we’re close," family friend and soccer coach Scott Thomason said. "We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure Caitlyn comes home safely and we’re going to stand with her family until that happens."
Anyone with information about Caitlyn's whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 386-719-2005, or the tip line at 877-419-0934.
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