Parents of two runaways shift search to Vegas

The parents of two runaway Gardnerville Ranchos girls shifted their search Thursday to Las Vegas in hopes of finding the 13- and 15-year-old girls who left home Saturday with a 40-year-old man.

Amy Meeks and her husband spent three days in California after Charlotte, 15, and Emily, 13, were picked up with Jeffery Alan Palmer, 40, in a motel in Manteca, Calif.

Palmer was arrested on suspicion of child abduction and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He is in jail in San Joaquin County on $104,000 bail. His next court appearance is Aug. 29 in Manteca.

The sisters were taken to a safe house in Stockton but ran away before their parents arrived to pick them up.

They joined Christopher Levya, 16, a boy Emily met during the summer while she was visiting a friend.

The runaway teenagers were last seen with the boy trying to get rides at the Flying J Truck stop in Ripon, Calif. Authorities believed they may have been on their way to Oregon or Canada, but the Meekses think they might be in Las Vegas.

"This is a pretty overwhelming place," Amy Meeks said in an e-mail Thursday. "This may take a while, if they are even here."

Meeks has been distributing fliers and posting messages on Web sites to encourage the teenagers to get in touch with their families.

"I would just like to tell them that even if they're afraid to come home, at least contact somebody and let them know they're OK," Amy Meeks said. "We definitely want them to know they're not in trouble. We love them."

The girls left home late Saturday night with Palmer of Gardnerville who reportedly drove them to Manteca to meet Levya.

Meeks reported the runaway girls, and Palmer was arrested early Monday at a motel in Manteca with the girls and the teenage boy. Authorities said the room was littered with alcohol containers.

Meeks said her daughter Emily met Levya a month ago when she was visiting a childhood friend in Manteca.

Their parents believe the girls contacted Palmer because he offered to take them to California to meet Levya.

Palmer was convicted in 2006 of aggravated stalking, a gross misdemeanor. He received a suspended 180-day jail sentence and was placed under the supervision of the adult probation department for one year. He completed the probation.


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