Missing Ocean City teen found in Texas

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Ocean City's Natalie Woollerton, 16, was found by police in Texas Monday. Ocean City's Natalie Woollerton, 16, was found by police in Texas Monday.

OCEAN CITY – Natalie Woollerton has been found safe and healthy, Ocean City police announced Monday, Dec. 3.

According to police, Woollerton, 16, was found at 3:30 a.m. Monday in Mesquite, Texas by a police officer investigating a suspicious vehicle. The vehicle she was found in was the same one reportedly taken by Woollerton when she left her Ocean City home last week.

The teenager, who is autistic, was reported missing on Wednesday, Nov. 28 by her mother, Holly Woollerton, with whom she lives.

Now, Holly Woollerton is on her way to Texas to pick up her daughter and members of the community, including the Ocean City Police Department, are breathing a sigh of relief. 

Capt. Steve Ang, spokesman for the Ocean City Police Department, said it will be 24 to 48 hours before mother and daughter return home and police are able to determine her whereabouts for the past five days.

According to initial reports, Natalie Woollerton may have voluntarily left her home in the 1500 block of Central Avenue in her mother's 2009 Lexus sedan. Police released information on the vehicle and a description of Woollerton, noting that she was familiar with Upper Township, but she may be uncomfortable driving on highways.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, police released more information on the case, including a second license plate number.

By Saturday, Dec. 1, Ocean City police issued a plea for help to locate the girl.

Police say details of Woollerton’s whereabouts over the last five days are still being developed by investigators.

“You start to get worried after 24 hours, we’re happy that she was found safe,” Ang said. “From a police standpoint, there does not appear to be any foul play.”

Ang said Holly Woollerton will meet with police officials in Mesquite and once she has gained custody of her daughter, she will return to Ocean City. 

“Once she gets home, it’s a family matter,” Ang said. “Obviously, this young lady left home, and it’s all about the family healing.”

Ang said the local police department’s role in the case was locating her. He said that after Natalie was reported missing, Holly Woollerton signed a complaint against her daughter for taking the car.

“That was a tool that we used to get the car into a national database,” he said. “It was very important to get that vehicle entered into the system and Natalie listed as a missing person. That’s what helped lead to locating her.”

If her mother withdraws the complaint, then Natalie Woollerton will not face any charges, he said.

Ang said that once in Texas, Natalie had parked the car behind a convenience store.

“It was parked where vehicles don’t normally park,” he said.

A police officer ran a check on the tags and discovered that the vehicle had been reported stolen and Natalie reported missing.

“It was very good police work, thank God he was suspicious and checked the tags on the car,” he said.

-- Claire Lowe and Ann Richardson contributed to this story

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