A 17-year-old Connecticut teen who was reported missing after flying to Morocco to see a boyfriend she met online returned to the United States on Saturday evening.
Rebecca Arthur was turned over to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco on Saturday morning and staff from the department dropped her off at the airport. She flew on Royal Air Maroc Flight No. 200, which landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport at 5:24 p.m. After passing through customs, Arthur was escorted by Port Authority police officers and Clinton Police detectives to an unmarked police vehicle and she was transported back to Connecticut.
"We are happy to announce that Rebecca Arthur is home safely," said Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn, of the Clinton Police department on Saturday. "She was just brought home by our detectives who met her as she got off the plane in New York City."
Police said Rebecca Arthur's mother dropped her off Monday at the Delta Airlines terminal at JFK. She was under the impression her daughter, who lives in Clinton, was flying to California to visit a friend.
Instead, Arthur boarded a flight to Casablanca, Morocco, to visit Simo El Adala and arrived on July 7.
Arthur and Adala appeared on Hespress, a Moroccan media outlet, where the young girl told reporters that her mother gave her permission to visit her boyfriend while holding up what appears to be a signed permission form for minors to travel alone.
"(Rebecca) has confirmed to our investigators she did alter that document," said Dunn. "Her mother did give her permission to travel to what she believe was California."
Police said that the mother did sign a permission slip for her to travel, but that Arthur changed it to look like her mother was authorizing her to fly to Morocco, which police said "was never the case ever."
The case was handled as a missing person investigation and police said "there's no criminal aspect to it," so the case has been closed and police said "we're extremely happy with the outcome."
"72 hours ago we were thinking worst case scenario considering where she traveled to and that what of the world," police said.
Detectives grilled her about the trip to meet the boy she’s known online for a year and dated for six months.
"I am safe and OK with my boyfriend Simo and his family, and I have my parent's permission to come here and visit and spend time with them, a young woman who appears to be Arthur said in the video published by Hespress.
Authorities found Arthur safe in the seaside community of Essaouira with El Adala and his family at 3 a.m. local time Friday.
El Adala also misled his family, according to police, who said the couple arranged the trip without his parents' knowledge or consent.
According to police, Arthur and El Adala have known each other for about a year and have been a couple for the last six months, but had never before met in person.
Local police received help from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. consulate in Morocco to find the teen.
“When we found out it was a boyfriend/girlfriend that met online, we were relieved. When she arrived in the U.S. today we were ecstatic. So, a happy ending," Dunn said.
Police said the story had a happy ending, but that Arthur was upset about having to come home early.
“She’s upset," Clinton police said. "She went to meet the love of her life and that was cut short.”
Travel to Morocco can be dangerous due to "the potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens," according to the U.S. State Department, which urges Americans in Morocco to "maintain a low profile."
The state department declined to comment on reports that the state encouraged Arthur to leave Morocco and helped escort her.
"We are aware of these reports, but due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide further information," according to the state department's press office.