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Tennessee children missing for a year found in South Florida; mother arrested

The two sisters were reported missing back in Sept. 2019. Police say they are still searching for the sisters' older brother.
Credit: Miami Dade Corrections

MIAMI — After being reported missing nearly a year ago in Memphis, Tennessee, two sisters have been found in South Florida and their mother has been arrested, multiple news outlets report. 

Police in South Florida told news outlets they found a 13-year-old girl wandering around, confused and barefoot. She gave officers her name and age, and dispatchers searched Florida's missing person's database to see if someone had reported her missing. They didn't find anything. 

After a local and state-wide search didn't turn up anything on the girl, dispatchers did a nationwide search but still didn't find anything. Eventually, police found the girl, identified as Sandra Bates, had been kidnapped from Memphis Tennessee, police told news outlets. 

According to an article from our sister station WATN from Sept. 22, 2019, one of the girls was 12 years old at the time, and her sister was 9. They were reported missing after they left their foster home. Investigators in Memphis believed at the time the sisters may have been with their mother, 45-year-old Sandra Bates. Their brother, a 15-year-old, was also reported missing and believed to be with his mother and two sisters.

The Miami Herald reported the Department of Children and Families told police the girl had two other siblings with her when she went missing and they could be “possible victims of human trafficking."

The girl was able to give officers a little bit of information about where she was in Biscayne Park – the color of the house she ran away from and two house numbers, police told the Herald. 

The next day, DCF and police found the girl's mother, Sandra Bates at a home in the 1300 block of Northeast 150 Street. Officers said Bates had an outstanding warrant for kidnapping out of Memphis. When authorities searched the rest of the house, they found a 9-year-old girl hiding in a closet. 

Authorities did not find the boy and reportedly issued a missing-persons alert for the 15-year-old. 

Sandra Bates was arrested and taken to jail. 

CBS Miami reported the 13-year-old girl was taken to the hospital after she told officers she had hurt her foot running away. Her 9-year-old sister was taken into protective custody. 

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