Missing American teen found in Seoul, spokesman says
By KIM GAMEL AND MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 24, 2017
SEOUL, South Korea — A U.S. soldier’s teenage daughter was found safe in Seoul and was reunited with her family Thursday, two weeks after she vanished from Camp Humphreys, a spokesman said.
Fatima Andrea Wdave, 17, was reported missing after she failed to report to her summer job at a sushi restaurant outside the Army garrison, about 35 miles south of the South Korean capital.
The U.S. military put out an all-points bulletin saying she was last seen outside her on-post quarters at about 10:30 p.m. Aug. 10.
U.S. military police picked her up in Seoul after she was located on Thursday and took her back to her family on Humphreys.
“She’s fine. She’s in good shape,” Humphreys garrison spokesman Bob McElroy told Stars and Stripes. “She is back with her family.”
McElroy praised the efforts by U.S. military police and South Korean police who helped find her, saying they acted on a lead.
He declined to immediately release more information about where she's been or other details, saying the family had just been reunited and needed privacy.
“We’re just happy that she’s back,” he said.
The U.S. military put out an all-points bulletin seeking information about Fatima’s whereabouts after her father, Sgt. Francisco Wdave, reported her missing on Aug. 13.
Sgt. Wdave, 39, of El Paso, Texas, is assigned to the 602nd Aviation Support Battallion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
He transferred to Camp Humphreys with his wife, Fatima, and three other children ages 20, 18 and 3, from Fort Riley, Kan., last year.
In an earlier interview, Wdave said the last time he saw his daughter was to say good night before he went to bed on Aug. 10. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary, he said, recalling that she was watching TV and had baked cookies that day.
The family only began to sense something was wrong the next day when her employer called to say she hadn’t shown up for work as scheduled. His wife then searched her room and found everything was normal except for some missing money.
They waited until Aug. 13 to report her missing in hopes that she was off with friends and would return home, Wdave said, adding the family had her passport and other IDs so she was presumed to be in the country.
The all-points bulletin was distributed to military law enforcement channels including South Korean national police, officials said.
Investigators also talked to family and friends, posted flyers seeking information and monitored her social media accounts, officials said.
Wdave, whose last name is pronounced OO-dah-vay, said his daughter loves being in South Korea and was learning the language.
“She’s a very outgoing person. She’s a very happy person,” he said.
Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek is the site of a yearslong expansion aimed at making it the main headquarters for U.S. Forces Korea as part of a 2004 relocation agreement with South Korea.
About 28,500 U.S. servicemembers are stationed on the divided peninsula after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.