Teenage Runaway Calls Decision to Leave Home with Older Man a Mistake

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY -- On March 2nd, 16-year-old Jennifer Romero disappeared. Police found her with 22-year-old Leonel Alvaro Sis-Toj, a man she met on Facebook. Sis-Toj from Arlington is charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Jennifer was reluctant to say much of anything in an exclusive interview with a WHSV reporter. Ronald Flores, her step father said she was in a very bad situation, but last night he got the best call he's ever received.

“Guys my age, don't make the mistake that I made. Later you will find out that it's a bad decision. It's hard,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer Romero planned to run away with the help of Sis-Toj after a family argument. He was a Facebook boyfriend she met only weeks prior. He came from Arlington to pick her up, but once she got to his apartment, she realized he only lived in one bedroom of it. She had second thoughts.

“It was not what she was expecting. It was something she recognized was a mistake. She apologized to her mom,” said Flores.

Jennifer was scared and didn't have a way to get home. Investigators are still trying to figure out why Sis-Toj wouldn't bring her back. They said he didn't do anything to her, but seemed to be infatuated with her.

“She is still emotionally affected from what happened. We're probably going to put through some counseling to help her. She's not the same girl who left.”

Investigators tracked Jennifer down after she made brief calls to her family and friends during the weekend.

The Augusta County Sheriff's Office said this case is an example of the dangers of social media. Having lived through this situation, Jennifer couldn't agree more and had a message to the people who were thinking of her.

“I apologize to all the people that were worried about me,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer could face charges because of the challenging investigation. She knows she did something wrong, but that doesn't matter to her family. She said she'll learn from this experience.

There are no connections between Sis-Toj and another man police arrested while investigating the case. Police say Mynor Franco-Depaz played no part in Jennifer's disappearance. Investigators will speak to the Commonwealth's attorney on his behalf.

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