Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Missing: Michaela Wells, 16

Miss Nebraska Teen missing since Sunday
Bellevue police do not believe that a pageant winner who was reported missing Monday was taken against her will, but the girl's parents do. 

Michaela Wells, 16, who is USA National Miss Nebraska Teen, was last seen after 8:30 p.m. Sunday at her home in the Golden Hills Subdivision at 36th Street and Highway 370 in Bellevue. 

Wells told her family she was stepping outside to take out the trash. She was wearing jeans, a dress coat and slip-on black pumps. She left her heavy winter coat and cellphone inside the house.

Twenty minutes passed before Wells' family grew worried that she hadn't returned. Her father looked inside and outside the house. He then drove around the neighborhood searching for her. 

Her parents first thought Wells had seen a friend outside and hitched a ride to IHOP. But she didn't return home that night or the next. 

Wells' mother, Theresa Norris, filed a police report at 9 p.m. Monday.

When she says she's going to step out of the house for a minute, she always comes back in,” Norris said. “It's not like Michaela to disappear without telling us.
Michaela Wells, 16, had just spent the day shopping with her mother for the gown she’d wear in the upcoming USA National Pageant in Florida.
"She couldn’t be happier," Theresa Norris, her mother, told "She couldn’t get a smile off her face because she was also asked out." (on a date)
Norris explained that her daughter was planning to attend a high school "military ball" for students involved with the junior ROTC program.
Wells told her grandmother, who was visiting at the time, that she was going to take out the trash from her Bellevue, Neb., home.
"It usually takes her 10 minutes," she said. 
Time passed at the family began to panic. The teen's dad drove through the neighborhood and the mom called friends. It was late Sunday night and the girl was last seen at about 8:30 p.m. Norris said her daughter was not dressed for the weather and even left her cell phone inside the house.
"Her friends are in shock as some of them had just talked to her the afternoon before she vanished to make plans for the week," Norris said in a Facebook post
The family does not believe Wells ran away. She hasn't had any contact with friends or family members since Sunday.

Her name has been entered into the state and national law enforcement database as a missing juvenile, Officer Laurie Synowiecki, a police spokeswoman, said Tuesday. But Bellevue police don't suspect foul play. 

“At this time there is no evidence to indicate Michaela left her residence against her own will or that foul play is involved,” Synowiecki said.

Wells is white, 5-feet-6, 120 pounds and has brown eyes and brown hair. 

Anyone with information about Wells can contact the Bellevue Police Department at 402-293-3100.


JoAnn said...

"She couldn't be happier" is not the same as saying "She is happy." "She couldn't get the smile off her face because she had been asked out" isn't the same as saying "She smiled all day because she has a date."

ima.grandma said...

Agreed JoAnn. I can say this with certainty: any actively social teenager is not willingly going anywhere without her cellphone. I have a teenage granddaughter and I have had to turn around several times to drive back to the house just so she could retrieve her phone.

JoAnn said...

Hi ima.grandma!
Yes, my daughter hasn't gone anywhere without her mobile for years. It's always on her person, even when she steps out on the deck for a minute. It is their link to their entire world.

ima.grandma said...

Good morning JoAnn. My teen gd even takes her phone with her into the bathroom while taking a shower. I guess she is so afraid of missing out on something.

"When she says she's going to step out of the house for a minute, she always comes back in,” Norris said.

I get the impression there are times when she steps out to visit with friends in the neighborhood, perhaps it is a common street where teens congregate or drive by. She could also be stepping out for privacy while talking on the phone. I know my teen gd oftens steps into the back yard to avoid evesdropping, but as she didn't have her phone this is not the case in this instance.

Rachael said...

Putting on pumps to take out the garbage is a pretty good indicator that she had plans with someone.

That doesn't mean she didn't meet with foul play.

I would think that if she was planning on running away, she wouldn't do it in pumps, she would wear something more practical.

Apple said...

"She couldn’t be happier," Theresa Norris, her mother, told "She couldn’t get a smile off her face because she was also asked out." (on a date)
"She couldn't get a smile off her face"

Is this a past tense reference?

JoAnn said...

She is a teenage girl with an upcoming pageant. Maybe she was wearing the pumps to practice walking in them. Just a thought, I realize that at 16, many girls have been wearing 4 inch heels for a while already.
If she had been secretly communicating with someone & didn't want anyone to know, I would think she would take her phone with her, even if she took the battery out so she couldn't be tracked.

elf said...

They live by a highway? That's pretty convenient for a predator.
That the teen didn't take a phone or a purse should be a red flag to the authorities. Teenagers (I would imagine especially beauty queen types) go no where without their phones and makeup. My 16 yr old niece ran away a couple years ago from Missouri to Texas (to be with her boyfriend) and she took her phone, clothes, and her purse full of makeup.

Rachael said...

Good point, JoAnn.

JoAnn said...

There are so many questions I would have for her family & friends!!! Did the missing girl enter this pageant because SHE wanted to, or is she a reluctant "pageant girl" whose mom wants this for her? Was she in pageants as a young child, and/or a pre-teen, and felt she had outgrown them? Did she find pageants overly stressful?
Was this date to the "military ball" with someone she really liked or was this someone her mom wanted her to date? Was there some other guy she liked? Someone older? Her friends would know this, at least one friend would know.

Sus said...

I never understand this delay in reporting a child missing. She is 16 years old. She took the trash out and ended up staying out all night and the next day...maybe. The mother reported her missing at 9;00 pm the next night.

I just don't get it. I would report my daughter missing the minute she didn't come back in the house and I couldn't get her on her phone or reach her friends. 16 years old!!

JoAnn said...

Michaela's parents are managing a facebook page that is her "official" Miss Teen Nebraska page.
Comments by her parents snipped:
"We feel that no matter how she came to be gone, voluntary or not, she IS in danger."
"It's because no one saw what happened. There's no evidence of foul play because no one saw what happened. They're now not ruling out runaway because no one saw what happened."
This is response to someone asking why police think she is in no danger.
What happened?

C5H11ONO said...

She was wearing jeans, a dress coat and slip-on black pumps.

She was wearing a dress coat in addition to slip-on black pumps.

I believe that is why the parents think she left to meet with someone. Why she didn't return is very concerning though. I hope she is OK.

JoAnn said...

Her parents have access to both her official pageant facebook & what appears to be her personal facebook, and I'm guessing that means they knew her password. Her personal FB doesn't look like a typical teenager's page, though. A small number of friends, when these days it is typical for teenagers and young adults to have hundreds of friends. Her posts are "liked" by 3 or 4 people & have only a couple of comments. She shares "Missing Child" posts from around the country. She has a little brother with a rare disease. She most recently posted that she had lost some weight & was having a gown taken in by her seamstress, and a week earlier she had been so sick she "vomited on a table at a seminar."
These are things that stand out for me. I think if you are involved in the pageant world, reputation is everything. A typical FB page may not be "allowed."

Sus said...

From the above article:
"Although Wells is seen photographed in a sash that reads 'Miss Nebraska Teen', she has no affiliation with the Miss America or Miss USA organization or associated teen pageants."

What??? Every headline reads she is Miss Mebraska Teen.

Sus said...

Gee, guess I made up a new state. That would be Nebraska.

JoAnn said...

Not trying to hijack this entire thread, but this is one of the few days I've had time to thoroughly read the blog & this is a very interesting article.
Also from Michaela's facebook: on Feb 26, she attended a Criminal Justice seminar through a university program of some kind. As part of this seminar, she toured the Douglas county jail. There was also a discussion panel with inmates. I hope police are looking at this & while it may have no connection with her disappearance, wouldn't it be a consideration?

JoAnn said...

Her title is USA National Miss Teen Nebraska. There are so many different pageant organizations these days.

Sus said...

Thanks, JoAnn. BTW, I was reading through the Holly Bobo thread on websleuths last night. There was a little discussion on why Holly was on stage at that coon hunt dinner. :-)

elf said...

Maybe since her parents have her password they closely monitered her Facebook? Allowing only friends that they approved of because of the increased risk of predators online? From what I read on the missing page they set up on Facebook, the post about michaela's shoes, it seems they are conscientious people. Michaela disappeared wearing her slip on flats for convenience because shoes aren't allowed on the carpet, she was just stepping outside for a moment. Being a girly girl and fashion aware she wouldn't have went anywhere with friends wearing an old pair of shoes not really suited for winter weather or walking any great distance. It worries me that they live near a highway (if what I've inferred from the article in Peters post).

elf said...

*I meant to say if what the article included in Peters post is correct and her house is close to highway lol kids interrupted me.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little background information written by Michaela herself:

She sounds like a sweet and caring young woman.

As far as I can tell, this is the pageant system she's involved with:

There sure are a lot of different pageants out there! It's confusing in that they all use similar names in different order.

c.mon said...

Michaela Wells
29 minutes ago 
Michaela has been missing over 62 hours almost 3 days. We still have no news though the police say they are getting tips and are weeding through them. Several more media outlets have called about her case and we have turned down talking to OK I get that some people may not care for Nancy Grace but come on, WHO TURNS DOWN having their missing child's face put out all over the world ??? RED FLAGS !!!! said...

Sorry my whole post ran together.... The first is from her pageant page....

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the "pumps" she was wearing could be low-heeled or even flats, like casual ballet slipper style.

In other words, she may not have dressed up to meet someone, just threw on whatever was handy to run out with the trash bag.

Leaving her cell phone in the house seems odd if she was planning to go somewhere. And how would she explain a long absence to her parents? Why not make up a plausible story?

I'm hoping for a happy ending here, but the little information released so far doesn't point to a voluntary action. Maybe there was some sort of argument with her parents.

Eliza said...

About the pumps, that's what her family says on FB:

"There is a LOT of speculation on our daughter's shoe selection the night she disappeared. So, I'm going to clarify: In our house it is required that you take your shoes off upon entering and leave them by the door where a shoe cupboard is placed (like an Asian household). Michaela keeps an old beat up pair of slip on pumps (1" heel) by the door for their easy slip on and off ability when she has to just run out and grab the morning paper, fetch something she forgot in a car or do a quick chore. These are NOT dress shoes with a high heel."

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eliza.

Hmm, I get the no shoes rule but it does imply a well-run household. It makes me wonder about other rules.

Michaela is very involved in her community, and while I admire her dedication, I suspect she's had some stressful moments...

JoAnn said...

Is Bruce Norris her stepfather? I notice that he refers to Michaela as "our daughter" on facebook posting on his own FB.

Red Ryder said...

Gee, guess I made up a new state. That would be Nebraska.
Haha!That"s cute!

Red Ryder said...

elf said "Maybe since her parents have her password they closely monitored her Facebook?"
Possibly,though they have her phone and she likely has her FB on there. Also if she has a laptop or computer in her room she may just leave herself signed into her FB. They seem like caring people.
It would be interesting to here a statement from one of her close friends.

SconnyGirl said...

There is a news conference planned for 1630 for an update on this case by Bellevue PD.

SconnyGirl said...

The time is 1630 Central time. Sorry about that.

JoAnn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eliza said...

I'm really worried for Michaela.. The parents should have made the report earlier, I feel that precious time was lost. I hope she just wanted some time away, but I'm afraid some pervert may have abducted her! I pray for Michaela's safe return!

JoAnn said...

Police in Bellevue held a press conference this afternoon regarding Michaela's disappearance. Police stressed that social media had blown this disappearance up & seemed to insinuate that was the reason for the presser. If I can find a link to an actual transcript, I will post that. The upshot is that they are still investigating & have no evidence of an abduction, but can't rule it out either. Clarification was given to earlier reports that police felt she was in no danger - they said she could have gone willingly and still be in danger as a vulnerable 16 yr old.

JoAnn said...

Chief Elbert also said that Michaela had other instance(s) of leaving home, but had always returned within a day. This could explain why parents waited 25 hrs before reporting her missing to police.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy the "Michaela put on pumps because they were at the door. Everyone must take their shoes off at our door." Look at the photos on the stepdad's FB page. Check out the chunky unidentified crap on their floor and the HALF-EATEN CHICKEN LEG in one of them. Yuck. They aren't worried about clean floors.

These are renaissance fair groupies (fantasy role playing addicts). They may not have noticed their daughter wasn't home for 25 hours, Remember the Gallaghers?

JoAnn said...

Yes, this family seems to be very involved in Renaissance fairs, and it seems to be a family activity, not just the parents. We've seen a lot of written info from the parents on FB, but not much in spoken statements. The police may be holding back information. I say this because the tone of the press conference seemed somewhat lighthearted compared to other pressers about missing children. That is based only on my own perception.
I did see photos from stepdad's FB, and the one that made me hesitate was a photo of Michaela all dressed up & the comment from dad began with "This is why I make knives..." I guess this means in order to be protective of his beautiful stepdaughter, and indeed it does seem that he crafts Renaissance replica knives. I reminded myself that pictures & words that are perfectly innocent can seem sinister when someone disappears. We need more statements.

Jenny said...

I am so glad you posted this! I am very worried about her safety. I am worried as to why the parents turned down interviews. I will say, I'm not a fan of Nancy Grace. She made a very rude comment about homeschooling when another homeschooler went missing. However, if my child was missing, I would think I would shout from the rooftops asking for help!

Anonymous said...

The stepfathers Facebook is weird. Even weirder a minute after posting about his missing stepdaughter he changed his profile picture to a picture of himself, why not a picture of his missing stepdaughter with her info?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who attends Renaissance fairs has a couple screws loose.

Shelley said...

I just can not understand these parents and the lack of urgency.

First of all, who would decide to go out with friends after stepping out to take out the trash. My son is 6 but even when he's older... He will have to ask to go out.

So for a girl that seems responsible, it seems unlikely she would just leave.

If so that would mean that is acceptable and I personally find that to be a serious lack of parenting.

Then the fact they didn't report this for 24 hours is just flat out unacceptable.

A 16 yr old does not have any reason to just disappear for that long. No matter what.

The fact they refused Nancy Grace, a show that gets national coverage is more concerning.

Something is just flat out wrong here.

I think there needs to be some laws in place that parents can not just go about their lives if their child is missing. My view is you are responsible for them. Casey Anthony to be should have been charged (on top of murder) with child neglect just for not reporting it.

And for the love of Pete if these people don't want kids there are lots of ways to stop it. Even permanent. So no excuses.

Be a good parent or don't have kids. Period.

I'm just so angry that these kids are not being cared for.

Shelley said...

I just looked at her public Facebook

This is an extraordinary girl.

She is doing this to help people. Not like most teens. They are about themselves. Their clothes, parties etc.

This girl is helping with this that matter.

No way a girl like this just took off. No way.

So I am more concerned mom and step dad waited to call and the fact they are not seeking media attention.

This is alarming!

And the post on her page that starts "hello, yes our daughter is missing" is less emotion and fear than pet owners express over the family dog"

There is not an ounce of fear or panic in this.

I want to know what mom and dad are like. And I'm not saying all home school kids have weird parents but typically that is the case.

My first questions would be to ask my and dad why they are not frantic. Or at least mom since dad is "step dad"

I just don't understand.


c.mon... said...

Shelly.... I thought the same about the moms post !! I took as being a smartass more than anything... There are red flags every where... and to home schooling, Tammy and Sidney moored home schooled their children.. Just saying...

JoAnn said...

I agree, I would be frantic, panicked & desperate to reach out via any media outlet that would give me air time. So many people watch Nancy Grace, I wouldn't turn down that opportunity to appeal to the public. I would expect parents to be crazed with worry, knowing their daughter attended a seminar a week or so before she disappeared, and as part of that seminar toured the county jail & participated in some kind of panel discussion with inmates. Not to mention being a pageant winner/beauty queen, which, regardless of how you feel about pageants, exposes her to public scrutiny.

ima.grandma said...

Shelley said:
I'm not saying all home school kids have weird parents but typically that is the case.

I know several excellent sets of parents who home school their children with positive measureable results. I find the classification of "weird" harsh and am curious why you would draw that conclusion.

Sus said...

I don't know what to make of this.

Like Shelly, the "Hello" introduction by the mother stands out to me. Do we look at it the same as a 911 call? It seems out of place...almost flippant.

And I'm still stuck on 16! Out all night without calling police! I know they said she'd done it before...the police would be sick of hearing from me.

JoAnn said...

I don't think it's fair to label homeschooled children as "weird." Michaela has a little brother with a rare disease (food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome) that may make homeschooling a better option for this family. However, what CAN happen with homeschooled kids, is that they are somewhat naive in a social sense & CAN lack the street smarts a 16 yr old high school girl might have acquired. It's true that anyone at any time can attract the eye of a predator. Because this is true, I think parents have to be protective almost to the point of paranoia. This will sound judgmental to some, but when I take food or clothing to shelters, I don't take my daughter with me. When she wanted to do volunteer work, I helped her find work at an animal shelter & went with her to meet the people she would be working with (she was in college at the time, so laugh if you will). This is all coming out a little jumbled, but when I see Michaela's FB, I see that she is involved in good works, and that's a wonderful thing, but it worries me that she has been here & there, her pictures are out there, on stage at pageants (shudder), and she has had a lot of public exposure focused on her beauty. And knowing this, I was bothered by what seemed to me to be a lack of urgency by police at the press conference yesterday. The comments that were made by the police chief were more along the lines of explaining the purpose of the presser as a response to the intense social media attention given to this disappearance. Unless they know something for sure that they aren't sharing, this is a vulnerable 16 year old girl who has vanished. Urgency is required.

Anonymous said...

Michaela bears more burdens than the average 16 year old. In addition to typical teen girl angst, like “am I too fat?”, “am I pretty enough?”, “do boys like me?”, etc., both her mom and little brother are coping with serious medical issues and the family finances are tight. These are ongoing troubles that impact Michaela's life each and every day. Imagine how it must feel to worry about your loved ones' health and maybe even fear that you'll be next in line to contract a horrible and possibly incurable illness.

In response to these challenges, the family maintains a close, protective bond with each other and “make lemonade out of lemons” by being involved with their community through fundraising and educational events. Admirable, yes, but the number of Michaela's appearances in these events is so high that “giving back” can become a burden when it leaves no room to just be a teenager.

Add to that the somewhat murky representation of Michaela's “Teen National Miss” title. My understanding is that this pageant system is new and, like most new systems, doesn't yet have formal pageants established in all the states and instead uses an “at-large” procedure until it does.

What this means is a contestant signs up, pays a fee and is given a title, which qualifies her to compete in a national pageant – first come, first served. There's nothing fraudulent about it, it just means that Michaela hasn't hasn't actually won a pageant but is qualified to compete against others at a national level. In this pageant system, the competition, named National Finals, is due to be held this June in Daytona Beach, Florida.

While this is all technically aboveboard, Michaela's use of the sash and crown, both in her appearances at fundraisers and in her published bios is a bit questionable; is this her idea or her parents' idea? Either way, it could be seen as yet another burden, depending on how Michaela (and others) view this use. Who made the decision to promote this title prior to Michaela competing in a “real” pageant?

Michaela's life is more complicated than that of an average teen, which could cloud her outlook; teens have trouble seeing the big picture and often give too much weight to minor problems. Over reaction and poor decision-making skills aren't unusual.

I'm hoping for the best-case scenario; that Michaela ran off for some thinking time, but her falling prey to some creep or harming herself isn't off the table.

Trigger said...

How can the police say that there is no foul play?

She left her cell phone. Keeping up with the latest teenage social network news is an on going marathon for high schoolers.

Something is wrong.

shelley said...

I have known home schooled kids and had some transfer into my high school. I didnt say all were.....but often they lack social skills.

and some parents due it to hide abuse, this is a fact.

im not blaming the kids.

Red Ryder said...

Found safe in Indianapolis!

Red Ryder said...

Here is a link

Such a blessing when people are found alive.

Anonymous said...

Great news! And the parents are very apologetic and say she will get counseling.

Anonymous said...

Interview of mother of missing teen Michaela Wells, 3 days since the family a has seen her.

Here's what the mother had to say:

"She's not home where she should be. She's not safe here. We can't touch her, we can't see her, we don't know what she could be going through. I dont feel she's safe."

Does anyone else get chills down their spine hearing this? Wish I had seen this story at the time, running away from this household makes sense!