The computer used in 2019 by Alicia Navarro, the Glendale teen who showed up last week at a Montana police station four years after disappearing, is in the possession of the FBI and could reveal how she came to be in living 1,300 miles away.
Meanwhile, renewed concerns for Navarro’s wellbeing following her July 23 visit to a local police department seeking to have her name removed from a missing child list prompted the teen’s mother to request privacy while authorities work through where Navarro has been since leaving home on Sept. 15, 2019, and who she has been with.
The mother, Jessica Nunez, expressed concern that media and gawkers will have a negative effect on the teen. The situation reached a head Monday when public attention appears to have prompted Navarro and a man she reportedly lived with in a Havre, Montana apartment to move out.
The move came the day after Nunez released a video statement acknowledging that she knows the public and media want answers.
“And I do, too. But the public search for answers has taken a turn for the dangerous,” she said. “This is not a movie. This is our life.”
Nunez has not yet reunited with her daughter in person and the only contact they had was a brief video session to confirm the teen’s identity. Investigators did not allow the mother to speak with Navarro during the session.
The request for privacy was repeated Tuesday by Kathleen Winn, director of Project 25, an Arizona-based nonprofit that combats the sexual exploitation of children.
Winn has been involved in the search for Navarro since 2020, and believes the teen was not a runaway despite the note left behind which read, “I ran away. I will be back, I swear. I’m sorry.”
“She was most likely ‘groomed away’ by someone online who encouraged Alicia to leave home,” Winn explained. She added that 14- or 15-year-olds cannot legally consent to sexual relationships with adults.
Navarro was eventually added to a nationwide missing person list following an extensive search by the Glendale Police Department in 2019. Her sudden appearance at a Montana police station on July 23 was announced to the public July 26 after investigators interviewed Navarro and a few unidentified persons.
Also on July 26, authorities obtained and executed a search warrant at the Havre apartment where Navarro was living with a 36-year-old man reported to be a longtime Montana resident. Witnesses say the man was briefly handcuffed at the scene but no arrest was made.
There has been no public comment by investigators about whether the man Navarro is living with was involved in her 2019 disappearance. Winn, however, is not concerned with the lack of an arrest, noting it is “still early” for investigators to put together a timeline of Navarro’s life the last four years.
In addition, detectives now have a name they can utilize to search computer and phone records to see if the same person was in contact with Navarro before she left her home.
Winn added that “there is no statute of limitations” for prosecuting someone who kidnaps or molests children.
For now, Nunez is focused on ensuring the safety of her daughter with a goal toward family reunification. A police spokesperson pointed out Monday that investigators do not have the right to force any contact between Navarro and her family.
“Please remember Alicia is an adult and it is up to her whether she chooses to remain in Montana, return to Arizona, or go elsewhere,” the spokesperson noted.
The search for Navarro has also been assisted over the years by Anti-Predator Project which helps rescue victims of human trafficking and identifies sexual predators.