Calif. Girl Arranged Marriage - A 13-year-old Southern California girl who ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage in Pakistan has been taken into protective custody by child welfare authorities, police said on Thursday.
Jessie Marie Bender, who vanished from her home in the early morning hours of February 22, was found at a motel in a nearby community, where she had hidden with the help of an uncle, San Bernardino County Sheriff's spokeswoman Roxanne Walker said.
She was physically unharmed.
"She ran away because she didn't want to go to Pakistan. She was afraid," Walker told Reuters.
The girl was taken into protective custody, along with her three siblings, after detectives corroborated her story, Walker said.
The San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office was reviewing the case for possible criminal charges against members of her family.
Jessie was initially reported missing from her home in the desert community of Hesperia, about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles, by family members who said she may have run away to avoid going on a two-month trip to Pakistan.
Calif. Girl Arranged Marriage