When Tammy Cox went up to her daughter’s room to check on her in the early afternoon of November 25 — it wasn’t unusual for her to sleep in late on the weekends — she never expected to find Heaven Ray’s room empty.
Heaven left a note for her mother and father suggesting that she may be heading towards California, but it didn’t say who she was with.
Tammy notified the police that her 15-year-old daughter, who was off her bipolar medication, was missing. She also said that she had no idea where she was or who she was with.
In a Facebook post, Tammy wrote that there was a possibility that her 15-year-old daughter was with a man she met through Snapchat.
The mom wrote that this man may have been “manipulating” her daughter into thinking they were friends. She had reason to believe he had agreed to pick her up on his way from San Antonio, Texas:
I have an update and it isn’t good. After putting pressure on Jhonathon White, he told me what I was after. He knew that Heaven had been talking to a grown man from California on Snapchat. Why he didn’t feel it was important to tell me, I don’t know, but it is what it is. The man she has been talking to is a predator, who has apparently been manipulating her for some time, and in her current state of mind, she believes that he is her friend. She left a goodbye note to me and her Dad, and said that she wouldn’t have a phone, so I’m sure he has taken it from her, as it isn’t here, and I have torn her room apart. […]
She is off her meds and is in a manic phase of bipolar disorder. I am asking everyone to share this to their wall, and particularly those who live in California and every state between there and Texas. This man told her that he would be in San Antonio for Thanksgiving and that he would pick her up.
On November 30, Heaven was found in Louisiana. Tammy delightfully shared the news on Facebook. She wrote:
She has been found and is safe!!! Thanks to everybody for all you have done for one little girl, please don’t forget that there are others out there still missing. Much love!!!
According to the Orange County, Texas, police, Heaven was found unharmed at a relative’s house of a person she knew. It was not confirmed if that person was the man she had met on Snapchat.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement:
The residence where Heaven was located belonged to a relative of a person that was known by Heaven. Preliminary reports are that Heaven left her residence last Saturday on her own accord, but we will continue to speak to all persons involved. We have not ruled out pending criminal charges.
Hours after learning her daughter was safe, Tammy took to Facebook to reveal the things she learned during the whole process:
Now that [I] have had time to process everything, and we are home and whole again…….and very thankful, there are some things I know:
1. I will look at every single missing poster I see, twice and then twice more.
2. I will never say Oh, they’re just a runaway
3. I’ll listen more and talk less
4. People really do care
5. Never commit a crime you WILL get caught…the police are WAY smarter than you.
6. Prayer works
7. You can’t replace good friends
8. When Detective Jacobs says we WILL find her…we will
9. Keep your eyes open
10. Never give up hope
Again, thank you to everyone for your concern, support and overwhelming response in getting our information out at the speed of light. We are grateful to God, family, friends and millions of people we don’t even know. Our world became smaller this week as social media brought us all closer together in order to bring Heaven home.
Please pray for the Rice family that they are able to bring Autumn home soon, and for every family still waiting to bring their kids home safely. Much love! Tammy
Autumn Rice was reported missing on October 30. The Beaumont, Texas, teen was reportedly walking to West Brook High School when she disappeared.
There have been no leads in her case since Autumn went missing. The 15-year-old is described as “5-foot-5 and about 160 pounds. She has brown hair and green eyes.”
Anyone with information regarding Autumn’s whereabouts is asked to call the Beaumont Police Department at 409-832-1234.