Father: 'If it can happen to our daughter, it can happen to anyone's daughter'
If you think it's difficult to be a parent in 2012, trying being a teenager in postmodern America.
The parents of Emily Daniel, 17, an alleged runaway teen who has been missing since last weekend, were shocked to learn about their daughter's "secret life."
And this secret life was what caused a family disagreement, which ended in the 17-year-old leaving home last Saturday.
In fact, she left all of her possessions at her St. James home, along with two "suicide notes," according to her stepfather, Shannon Roark.
Roark says Emily has spent the better part of a year meeting strangers from at least two adult social websites, commonly referred to as "hookup websites."
This came as quite a shock to Roark and Emily's mother, Melissa.
"It's been difficult seeing what this has done to my wife," Roark said. "I've been quiet for long enough and it's time to start talking about it."
Roark hopes to see Emily return safely, but at the same time, he hopes her story will help other parents understand what they might be up against.
"I feel like people in this little town need to know that if it can happen to our daughter, it can happen to anyone's daughter," Roark said with a sullen voice.
Since her disappearance, countless people have contacted the family, even one who picked her up the morning after and gave her money.
"The man said he saw her walking down the street in Cuba Sunday morning," Roark said. "She told him she was 19. She had slept in a barn. He gave her $40 and took her to a gas station."
Someone also reported seeing Emily hitchhiking on I-44 on the night she was reported missing.
As of now, foul play is not a factor in this case, said St. James Police Chief Jim Anderson.
"The Internet has made the world very small," the chief said of the case. "Everybody knows about it –it's been distributed across Missouri."
Anderson said Emily is considered an adult in the eyes of the law. And in reference to her suicide notes, there is a timeframe involved.
"There is a lapse of time if someone says they're going to kill themselves and they show up a week later," he said. "I don't know if we can get a judge to sign off on a 96-hour hold, but we're going to try and do everything we can."
Roark said use of social media has been a valuable tool in spreading the word. The family was even contacted by a self-proclaimed psychic who claimed to know where Emily was going.
"She told us that a man named Jake and a woman named Andi were significant in her disappearance. She said to look in Johnson County, Texas."
Along with Emily's good grades and outgoing personality, she has been accepted to Missouri Southern University in Joplin. Roark says the youngster is very much a people person.
Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Emily is asked to contact the St. James Police Department at 573-265-7012.