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Missing Florida girl found safe in New York, cops say

  • Caitlyn Frisna vanished from her Lake City, Florida, home around November 26 
  • She and high-school soccer coach Rian Rodriguez were spotted on CCTV after
  • They were making their way north through the Carolinas when last seen
  • On Friday NY state troopers stopped Rodriguez's car in North Syracuse
  • He was taken into custody without incident; Caitlyn's parents have been notified

By James Wilkinson and Regina F. Graham and Ashley Collman For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:56 EST, 1 December 2017 | Updated: 11:03 EST, 2 December 2017

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Caitlyn Frisina, the 17-year-old who disappeared from her home in Lake City, Florida, last weekend has been found alive and safe in Syracuse, New York.

The teen disappeared at some point between the night of November 25 and the early morning of November 26, leaving her parents distraught.

She was spotted on CCTV footage in the days that followed alongside her 27-year-old high-school soccer coach, Rian Rodriguez, heading up through Georgia and the Carolinas.

But it was on Friday that their five-day flight from the law ended with Frisina being found after a traffic stop, according to a tweet from a Florida sheriff's office.

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Caitlyn Frisina, 17, has been found safe in Syracuse, New York, almost a week after she disappeared with high-school soccer coach Rian Rodriguez
Caitlyn Frisina, 17, has been found safe in Syracuse, New York, almost a week after she disappeared with high-school soccer coach Rian Rodriguez
Rian Rodriguez, 27
Rian Rodriguez, 27

Caitlyn Frisina (left), 17, has been found safe in Syracuse, New York, almost a week after she disappeared with high-school soccer coach Rian Rodriguez (right), 27

Caitlyn disappeared last weekend from her home in Lake City, Florida. She and Rodriguez were found after state troopers stopped his car. He was taken in by police without incident
Caitlyn disappeared last weekend from her home in Lake City, Florida. She and Rodriguez were found after state troopers stopped his car. He was taken in by police without incident

Caitlyn disappeared last weekend from her home in Lake City, Florida. She and Rodriguez were found after state troopers stopped his car. He was taken in by police without incident

State troopers spotted Rodriguez's 2001 red Mercury Sable in North Syracuse, 1,000 miles from where the girl vanished,Action News Jax reported.

'The car was then pinned by our vehicle,' a New York State Police spokesperson said. 

'[A police officer] along with the FBI and other investigators were able to take them at gunpoint. They were taken into custody without any incident.'

Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident and Caitlyn's mom and dad told that she was safe.

'That was one of the best phone calls that I've made in my career,' Sheriff Mark Hunter told Action News Jax.

Caitlyn's mom, Scarlet, said in a statement: 'We are thrilled to death that our daughter is safe and we are looking forward to seeing her.' 

US Marshals also assisted in the search. 

More details will come in a Monday press conference, police said.

On Friday Scarlet told CBS that she and her husband had no idea that their daughter was conspiring to run away with Rodriguez, who is a family friend.

'I don't know,' she said. 'We've gone over that question in our minds a thousand times since this happened.'

This came as police revealed that Caitlyn already had a boyfriend, and brought him to Thanksgiving dinner last week.

'If they had a prior relationship it was a very, very tight secret. Caitlyn actually has a boyfriend. The boyfriend spent Thanksgiving with her,' said Columbia County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith.

'[Rodriguez] was a fine young man, he was a mentor to the soccer team, there was no indicators that he would do something like this,' Smith added.

When asked if her daughter may have been leading a secret life, Mrs Frisina responded: 'Well, that's what we wonder… something was going on. We just don't know what.'

Police had previously obtained a text message that said Caitlyn and Rodriguez may have had a 'relationship' - but they refused to go into detail about whether it was sexual or not.

Caitlyn's parents have been notified that she has been found safe and sound. It's believed the pair may have been attempting to head north into Canada 
Caitlyn's parents have been notified that she has been found safe and sound. It's believed the pair may have been attempting to head north into Canada 

Caitlyn's parents have been notified that she has been found safe and sound. It's believed the pair may have been attempting to head north into Canada 

Caitlyn's mom, Scarlet, broke into tears in a CBS interview as she said her daughter had been keeping a possible relationship with Rodriguez a secret from all - including her boyfriend
Caitlyn's mom, Scarlet, broke into tears in a CBS interview as she said her daughter had been keeping a possible relationship with Rodriguez a secret from all - including her boyfriend

Caitlyn's mom, Scarlet, broke into tears in a CBS interview as she said her daughter had been keeping a possible relationship with Rodriguez a secret from all - including her boyfriend

If it was, Rodriguez could face charges for sexual assault, because the age of consent in Florida is 18.

'I know that she, to some degree, left on her own. But I absolutely believe that she was lied to and totally misled,' her mom said.

Caitlyn's father, Ward, was too emotional to sit down for the interview with CBS.

His wife said he blames himself for his daughter's disappearance, because he encouraged Rodriguez to go for the boys' soccer team coaching job at Fort White High School.

'He said, "I can't believe I put not just my child but other people's children in this kind of environment,"' Scarlet said. 'That's hard for him.'

In a previous interview, Mr Frisina said he had no idea 'what brought this on' and that running away is not something he would ever expect his daughter to do.

Scarlet added: 'I can't fathom. I don't know. It's breaking my heart.'

Most heartbreaking of all was watching Caitlyn's little brother, Chandler, struggle not to cry on national television.

'I miss having someone to talk to,' he said. 'Just give me a call if you can't give anyone else a call. Please.'

Caitlyn had even brought her boyfriend - who has not been identified - to Thanksgiving before vanishing the following night
Caitlyn had even brought her boyfriend - who has not been identified - to Thanksgiving before vanishing the following night
Rodriguez was a trusted friend of the family
Rodriguez was a trusted friend of the family

Caitlyn had even brought her boyfriend - who has not been identified - to Thanksgiving before vanishing the following night. Rodriguez was a trusted friend of the family

Caitlyn's family (l-r: little brother Chandler, mom Scarlet and dad Ward) have been worried the whole week
Caitlyn's family (l-r: little brother Chandler, mom Scarlet and dad Ward) have been worried the whole week

Caitlyn's family (l-r: little brother Chandler, mom Scarlet and dad Ward) have been worried the whole week

'I miss having someone to talk to,' little brother Chandler, left, said in the interview. 'Just give me a call if you can't give anyone else a call. Please'
'I miss having someone to talk to,' little brother Chandler, left, said in the interview. 'Just give me a call if you can't give anyone else a call. Please'

'I miss having someone to talk to,' little brother Chandler, left, said in the interview. 'Just give me a call if you can't give anyone else a call. Please'

Caitlyn and Rodriguez were spotted a handful of times on Sunday, the day they skipped town, but weren't seen again until Friday.

They had been traveling in a northeastern direction, and officials believed they may have been trying to cross the border into Canada.

Police believe Caitlyn sneaked out of her house through her bedroom window late Saturday night or early Sunday morning - after wiping all of the data off her phone and leaving it behind.

She was first spotted in the early hours of Sunday morning, withdrawing $200 from an ATM in St. Mary's, Florida.

Rodriguez's car was spotted on surveillance cameras stopping at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina at 7:30am - around the time that Caitlyn's parents woke up and noticed she was missing.

At 9am, the couple were seen for the first time on surveillance camera together, making another stop at a Pilot gas station in St. George, South Carolina.

Rodriguez and Caitlyn are seen here in CCTV footage at a gas station in St. George, South Carolina, last Sunday
Rodriguez and Caitlyn are seen here in CCTV footage at a gas station in St. George, South Carolina, last Sunday

Rodriguez and Caitlyn are seen here in CCTV footage at a gas station in St. George, South Carolina, last Sunday

Last Sunday, the car was spotted at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina. Caitlyn left her phone behind; a text obtained from it suggested she was in a relationship with Rodriguez
Last Sunday, the car was spotted at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina. Caitlyn left her phone behind; a text obtained from it suggested she was in a relationship with Rodriguez

Last Sunday, the car was spotted at a gas station in Hardeeville, South Carolina. Caitlyn left her phone behind; a text obtained from it suggested she was in a relationship with Rodriguez

Rodriguez was also spotted in this pawn shop; authorities would not say what kind of item or items he was trying to sell
Rodriguez was also spotted in this pawn shop; authorities would not say what kind of item or items he was trying to sell

Rodriguez was also spotted in this pawn shop; authorities would not say what kind of item or items he was trying to sell

From there, the two continued northward to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Rodriguez was seen pawning items at a pawn shop in the early evening. Authorities would not say what he was trying to sell.

The Columbia County School District said in a statement at the time that Rodriguez 'has been suspended pending this investigation and is no longer serving in the supplemented capacity as Head Boys' Soccer Coach at Fort White High School.

'Depending on the outcome of this investigation, the information may be sent to [Florida Dept of Education] to determine if any violations of the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida or local School Board Policy have occurred.

'Again, the employee has been suspended and will be restricted from all contact with students. No other comments will be made pending this investigation.' 

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