Jessie Marie Bender had been missing a week. Her mother told authorities she feared the girl had run away with a Chicago man she met on Facebook. Following the family’s initial report, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department launched a massive search in the High Desert town for the girl, bringing in agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Chicago police.
On Wednesday afternoon, detectives found the girl at an Apple Valley motel. She was hiding there, authorities said, with the help of an uncle who said she was running away from a forced marriage in Pakistan.
Turns out Jessie’s mother is dating a Pakistani named Mohammed Khan, and she planned a trip to Pakistan to visit the family of her 6-year-old daughter’s father, according to the paper. One assumes that’s Mr. Khan. And the trip was supposed to be for two months.
The mother and Mr. Khan passed lie detector tests when they denied a forced marriage was in the plans. Obviously something got Jessie thinking she was marriage-bait. She and her three siblings are in protective custody now, which would indicate that the police are still somewhat suspicious of the situation.
Even if she wasn’t going to be dropped off as a child bride in the Dar Al Islam, it’s still insane for an American mother to take her kids to Pakistan right now. Or maybe ever.
Insane. Stupid, too.