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Teen who ran away with 37-year-old family friend found: cops

Robert Messer, 37, is facing charges, police say.
Robert Messer, 37, is facing charges, police say.Courtesy Neil and Lisa Schwartz

A 15-year-old girl and a family friend more than twice her age who ran away together have been found alive three days after vanishing, police confirmed to NBC News early Wednesday. 

Emily Lalinsky left her Plymouth Township, Mich., home on Sunday with 37-year-old Robert Messer after telling her mother the two were going on a hiking trip. They left behind their cellphones and a letter professing their feelings for each other. 

“We are in love and cannot be apart from each other,” Messer wrote in the note broadcast by NBC affiliate WDIV in Detroit.  “This is sad to us but our love, though we’ve had to keep it a secret, has been the best part of both our lives. Please be happy for us.”

Messer was being held in custody pending charges, police said.

The second part of the letter was written by Lalinsky, who told her distraught mother Lisa Schwartz not to blame herself and that she couldn’t have stopped them leaving.

Schwartz told WDIV on Monday that she felt betrayed by the man who “was like a brother to me” and that the pair who met at church had never showed signs that they had feelings for one another. 

 “I think once he realizes the magnitude of what he has done, he might hurt himself, and I don’t know where that would leave her,” she said.

Plymouth County police did not issue an Amber Alert but instead treated the disappearance as a missing person case, county police spokeswoman Jen Berezak said Monday.