Family fears missing NC teen ran off with older man she met online

Hailey Burns (WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Drive into Anthony Burns’ Ballantyne neighborhood and you’ll see pictures of his daughter posted everywhere. Sixteen-year old Hailey Burns has been missing since Sunday.

“I don’t think she realizes how much she’s loved, but there’s a lot of people out here who really want her home,” Burns said.

Burns says his daughter vanished from her bedroom.

“My wife opened the door and she was not there.You can’t understand how it feels until you you’re in it,” Burns said.

Her father said Hailey left a diary behind that detailed a plan to run away with a 32-year-old man she met online.

“He gradually wormed his way into her good graces, he coerced her into listening to him and not following our directions and the next thing I knew my daughter wasn’t communicating with me,” he said.

Burns said Hailey has Asperger Syndrome, and he admits they’ve had behavioral issues with her before. But he said his family did everything to make sure this wouldn’t happen – but it did.

“We had tried to eliminate all social media from our home. Telephones, computers… and she still found ways around it. She would use friends’ smart phones or the school library computer,” Burns said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police told WBTV they are investigating, but Burns said they don’t have any real leads on the man he believes took his daughter.

“He might not be 32, he may be 55 and running a human trafficking organization, there’s no telling. You don’t know who you’re talking to online. It’s not safe,” Burns said.

All Burns wants is his child back. But he also hopes others can learn from his family’s sheer desperation.

“If you’re not vigilant, you’re going to wake up one day and your child is going to be gone and you’re going to be sitting here on a camera pleading with them to contact you,” Burns said.

If you know anything about Hailey’s disappearance, call Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police immediately at (704) 336-7600.

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