The prayers of two St. James parents have been answered.
Emily Daniel, 17, of St. James, was found Monday afternoon and taken into custody by Cuba police after a nine-day search.
The alleged runaway teen was spotted by a clerk at a convenience store. After the clerk notified police at approximately 3:30 p.m., Daniel was taken into custody without incident.
"We had an anonymous tip from a worker at Midwest Petroleum, and she was sitting at the back door when we arrived," said Lt. Doug Shelton of the Cuba Police Department. "We notified St. James PD, and they picked her up at our police department."
Daniel reportedly ran away from home on Nov. 10, leaving behind two suicide notes. That night, she was spotted on I-44 "hitchhiking" toward Cuba. The next morning, she was picked up by an unidentified man in Cuba, and he drove her to a nearby gas station and gave her $40 in cash.
Apparently, Daniel told the man she was 19 and had slept in a barn the night before.
"She's alive and safe, and that's really all that matters right now," said Daniel's stepfather Shannon Roark. "The rest of it will come out in the wash."
Roark spoke to The Leader-Journal last week about his stepdaughter's "secret life." Roark said last week that Emily had spent the better part of a year meeting strangers from at least two adult social websites, commonly referred to as "hookup websites."
It was this revelation that led to a disagreement between Daniel and her parents, and Daniel hit the road soon after.
As of Monday night, Daniel had no desire to return home.
A frustrated Roark said there was little he and his wife Melissa could do.
"She's at that magic age of 17, so we can't make her do anything," Roark said.
"It's like I said, if this can happen to our daughter it can happen to anyone," he continued. "You think you're raising your kids right by going to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night and this happens right under our noses. (Kids) make their own decisions."
As for Daniel's mental state, no information was available as to whether she would be referred for psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
St. James Police Chief Jim Anderson said last week that her suicide notes may not be enough to commit her, as too much time had passed since the notes were written.