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Jefferson City police not actively investigating after teen couple found safe

Jefferson City police said Monday there is no active, criminal investigation ongoing after two teens returned home safe after being missing for nearly two weeks.

A press release from the police department said 15-year-old Zachary Johnson and 17-year-old Lily Gore returned home at about 3 a.m. Sunday.

“Both came back on their own,” said Captain Doug Shoemaker. “They were not contacted by law enforcement in that process.”

It was discovered that the couple traveled to various states over the past two weeks. Shoemaker said that although Gore had stolen her mother’s car, there is no intention by the department to pursue a criminal investigation.

“From what I understand, there’s really no intention to pursue any charges,” he said. “There’s really no crime like [kidnapping] that took place. These two thought it out, left and, fortunately for everybody, came home.”

ABC17 News reached out to friends who declined to comment, asking for privacy and respect as they “heal and adjust.”

Johnson’s mother, Stephanie, said in a Facebook message to ABC17 News Sunday that “we are just trying to hold our son tight and cry our tears of joy that he is home.”

She said they are still learning why the two teens ran away, and police did not have an answer Monday. Despite this, Shoemaker said it was a teachable moment for all parents.

“Being a teenager these days is extremely difficult,” he said. “If anything, it can bring up a conversation about what’s going on in the teen’s life and maybe prevent this type of thing from happening again or happening to your own child.”

Johnson’s mother said in the same Facebook post that they “have a team of counselors ready to help Zach understand to every problem there is a solution and leaning on friends, family and faith is how we find answers.”

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