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Georgia teen Julia Mann missing for months found safe, sheriff's office says

Julia Mann, 17, was last seen on the evening of February 20, 2020. It’s believed she walked out of her family’s home in Watkinsville, Georgia, about 70 miles northeast of Atlanta. Her laptop and cell phone are also missing, but have not been used since. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts. The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Ten weeks have passed since 17-year-old Julia Mann disappeared from her family’s home in Georgia on the evening of February 20, 2020. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” Julia’s mother, Terrie Clark, told Dateline. “We love Julia and we just want to know that she’s OK. We’re so worried.”

Julia Mann

Julia was last seen by her grandfather around 10 p.m. on Thursday, February 20 just before she went to bed at her family’s home in the area of Rocky Branch Road in Watkinsville, Georgia. By the next morning, she was gone.

Julia’s cell phone and laptop were also missing. But neither has been used since she disappeared. Authorities with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office told NBC affiliate WXIA that all indications were that Julia left home alone and of her own accord. But because her cell phone and social media accounts have not been used since she went missing, investigators said they are concerned for her safety.

Julia’s mother said that it’s possible that she decided to sneak out for the night and meet a friend, but said she does not believe the teen intended to stay away this long.

“She took so little with her,” Terrie said. “And she would never stay away and not tell anyone. There’s no indication to me that she ran away.”

One sentimental item left behind was a keychain, which was a gift from Julia’s 5-year-old sister, Olivia.

“Julia is crazy about her little sister,” Terrie said. “She would never leave her. It’s heartbreaking. Olivia keeps asking for her. And I don’t know what to say.”

Julia and her sister, Olivia.

Terrie, who lives in Dunwoody, Georgia, near Atlanta, with Olivia, told Dateline they were planning to move to the house in Watkinsville. But in order for Julia to start school, she was already there living with her grandparents. Terrie said that in the past, Julia had struggled with perfectionism with school. But since starting at her new school in January, Julia seemed happy and Terrie believed this would be a fresh start for her.

“She had just registered for senior classes for the next year, was doing really well in school and was making friends,” Terrie said. “She had been organizing her new room and was excited for us to join her. Things were just going really well for her.”

Terrie described Julia as sweet and creative with a great sense of humor. An intelligent student who did well in school, Julia was interested in computer programming.

Julia Mann showing off her new ear piercings.

Terrie said Julia loved playing an online role-playing game and she's worried that Julia might have met someone online who possibly lured her away from home.

“We just don’t know what to think,” Terrie said. “We have no idea where she could be.”

In the days following Julia’s disappearance, investigators with the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, along with other agencies, have performed searches on the ground and in the air, and sent K-9 units to canvass the area. But they have not found any trace of Julia.

Terrie told Dateline the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically slowed the search for her daughter.

“I’m worried she’ll be forgotten,” Terrie said. “We’ve been living this nightmare since February and now with coronavirus, everything has stalled. And it’s just a scary time out there right now, that I’m even more worried.”

In March, Sheriff Scott Berry announced an increase in the reward for Julia's safe return from $10,000 to $20,000. He recorded a Facebook video encouraging Julia to reach out to him or a trusted family member if she saw the news or his video on social media.

Julia Mann on surveillance video earlier in the day on February 20, 2020.

But after 10 weeks and still no trace of Julia, Sheriff Berry told WXIA that investigators are concerned that Julia has met with harm.

Her mother said she is worried that someone is keeping her captive and hurting her.

“We’re terrified,” Terrie said. “We just want to know if she’s safe. That’s all that matters. I’m never going to give up looking for her.”

Julia is described as being about 5-feet-3-inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds. She has blonde hair but her mother said it’s possible it could be dyed a different color. She also has several ear piercings.

The sheriff's office did not release a description of what clothing Juliawas wearing at the last time she was seen, but her mother believes she was wearing a lightweight puffer jacket and blue two-toned Vans, which are the only shoes missing from her room.

Anyone with information on Julia's whereabouts is asked to contact the Oconee County Sheriff's Office at 706-769-3945.

Editor's Note:

Julia Mann, a 17-year-old who disappeared in February has been found safe four months later, according to the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. Officers requested that the public respect the family's privacy and did not released any additional info.

Julia's parents released the following statement:

"Our prayers have been answered and our precious Julia is safe. She showed up at a grocery store in Louisville, Kentucky this morning and asked an officer to call her mom and dad. We want to thank everyone who cared about Julia and shared her story. We appreciate the hard work of all the law enforcement agencies involved. We are so grateful to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, The National Child Protection Task Force, The Morgan Nick Foundation, and the media. Thank you all for your overwhelming support over these last several months. We kindly ask that our family be given the privacy we need at this time. "

- Terrie Clark & Mitchell Mann (Parents of Julia Mann)