An Amber Alert issued for a 12-year-old Margate girl was canceled late Sunday after she was found in the passenger seat of a car being driven by a 31-year-old man in the Florida Panhandle.
The alert had been issued early Sunday morning after she was last seen in her home in the 7600 block of Northwest 18th Court by her 15-year-old sister Saturday night.
Authorities in Walton County say they found the girl in a car driving west on Interstate 10. At the wheel was 31-year-old Dana Broberg, from San Antonio, Texas, authorities said.
"I'm just so relieved that she's home and so grateful to everyone for bringing her home," said her mother.
She said her daughter had met Broberg online.
"Clearly he was intending on meeting her and tried as hard as possible to find out her address and phone number. He pressured her a lot and gave her a lot of attention," said the child's mother, as she described the nature of the emails and texts Broberg sent her daughter.
"I have her check her phone with me nightly and I noticed a string of emails and texts and I didn't recognize that number," she told NBC 6.
Margate Police suspect the man picked up the girl at the family's home sometime after midnight. They think he may have driven all the way from Texas and may have been planning to take her there.
The mother believes Broberg misrepresented himself as a teen to her daughter. She says she discussed the emails with the 12 year old, prior to her abduction. This case may not have resulted in the girl's safe return, were it not for the fact that her mother printed out the emails. Advice she wants all parents to follow.
"If you see any unusual phone numbers or emails, one thing I would do, and what saved my daughter's life, print out the emails. Get those phone numbers. Don't disregard it," she said.
The Margate Police department agreed these actions were crucial to helping track down Broberg and her daughter.
"She did all the right things. She was a great asset to our investigation. It ultimately led to her daughters recovery, " Margate Police spokesman Efrain Suarez said.
The girl is expected to return from Walton County soon. Her mother offered these words of comfort to her little girl.
"I love [you]. You're not in trouble and I'm so happy you're home."
The suspect is now in custody. Margate Police expect him to face kidnapping and interfering with custody charges at the state level. He could also face federal charges as the investigation continues.