A woman who vanished in Arizona as a baby more than two dozen years ago has been found living across the country, according to reports.
In December 1994, Aleacia Stancil was 9 months old when her mother, Toni Stancil, left her with a friend, saying she needed to "clear her head," CBS 5 reported.
An Air Force veteran, Toni Stancil had apparently struggled with drug use and turned to sex work after leaving the military. When she returned to collect her daughter, Aleacia was gone.
In the days after she was left with her mother’s friend, Aleacia had apparently been passed to several other people before winding up with police, who could not determine her identity, CBS 5 reported.
Toni Stancil went to jail soon after her daughter disappeared and didn’t report her child missing until March 1995. By then, the little girl was in the care of Child Protective Services, and authorities never linked the two cases together.
That same year, Toni Stancil was murdered, leaving cops struggling to solve the case of her missing daughter.
“Without that one and only witness, I’m very limited in how to proceed with the investigation," Phoenix police Det. William Anderson told the station.
Investigators continued to search for Aleacia with no luck, but in 2008 cold case detectives developed a DNA profile for the missing girl using genetic material from living relatives. Software was used to create images that showed what she might look like in the years that followed her disappearance.
Then, in 2014, a woman with no ID and little knowledge of her background checked into a hospital in Connecticut. A nurse who found her lack of personal knowledge odd searched online for missing people and discovered the age progression photo to be a close match to the woman in her charge.
The nurse notified police, who took the girl for DNA testing. Three years later, the tests came back a match, CBS 5 reported.
In the years between her disappearance and her turning up at the hospital, Aleacia had been adopted and now goes by a different name.
She wished to stay out of the spotlight, her biological grandmother, Frances Ford, told the station.
The two women have since met, and Ford said she hopes to one day have a relationship with her granddaughter.
"I would want the world to know that these are the things that can happen to kids, and not every story is a happily-ever-after, and it doesn't mean that they came from someone who didn't want them or didn't care," said Ford.