NORTH STRABANE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The parents of a 14-year-old girl are telling their story of fear and desperation after learning their daughter had taken their car and driven from her home in Washington County to meet a man in Ohio.
Nancy and David Terrell say they can finally rest easy knowing their 14-year-old daughter, Sharon Hernandez, is alive and safe.
Last Thursday, authorities say she stolen the family SUV and drove by herself from North Strabane Township to Columbus, Ohio.
“We didn’t know that she could drive,” said David Terrell, Hernandez’s father. “Well, she can’t drive nearly as well as she thinks she can because the truck got wrecked a couple of times.”
Investigators say the teenager traveled to Columbus to meet 26-year-old Stephan Cox, a man she had allegedly been talking to on the Internet.
The couple says Cox came to their house the day before to pick Hernandez up, but she wasn’t there. Apparently, the pair had a plan.
“He groomed her, and he had her do exactly as he wanted, so that she would not be found,” said Nancy Terrell, Hernandez’s mother. “His intention was for her not to be found.”
The Terrells say they tracked their daughter to Columbus from cell phone calls she had made to Cox.
By then, police were looking for the teenager and Cox. On Sunday, an officer stopped the pair riding in the SUV.
“There’s no way it could have happened had not some kind of divine intervention and intersession taken place,” Hernandez’s mother said. ‘I truly, truly in my heart believe that if it hadn’t happened the way it did, we wouldn’t have our daughter.”
Cox was arrested; and the teenager was taken to a juvenile facility. That’s when the couple finally saw their daughter.
“I told her I was very angry with her because she had put me through what a mother most fears ever, is that they lose a child,” Nancy Terrell said.
Meanwhile, Hernandez’s father says he believes the plan was to exploit his daughter
“She was probably going to be a sex slave to a … some type of sex ring,” he said.