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Florida teen who vanished 5 years ago reemerges, telling police she's safe, happy and has a support system

EMILY SHAPIRO

Florida teen who vanished 5 years ago reemerges, telling police she's safe, happy and has a support system originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

A Florida teenager who vanished five years ago has reemerged this week, telling police she's safe, happy and has a support system.

Emily Paul was 14 years old when she went missing in 2013, according to ABC affiliate WMBB in Panama City.

Earlier this month, the local Bay County Sheriff's Office learned Paul's family had received letters from her, authorities said.

Sheriff's office Capt. Jason Daffin posted a video to Facebook on Aug. 2 requesting that Paul reach out to authorities to confirm her safety and close the missing persons case.

PHOTO: Capt. Jason Daffin speaks about the Emily Paul case in a video posted to the Bay County Sheriff's Office Facebook account on Aug. 2, 2018. (Bay County Sheriff)

"Emily, if you're watching this," Daffin said in the video, "our investigation is for no other reason but to make sure that you're safe, that you're where you want to be and it's under your own free will."

"I'm not at liberty to disclose to anybody where you're at. That's nobody else's business, that's your privacy. You're an adult," Daffin continued. "Emily, if you can just pick up the phone .... there are a lot of people in this community that care about you and love you and they just want that peace of mind."

Then, on Tuesday, authorities said Paul contacted the Bay County Sheriff's Office, and authorities asked that she come forward to police to confirm her safety.

About 30 minutes later, an undisclosed police department called the Bay County Sheriff's Office to say a woman claiming to be Paul was in the lobby.

PHOTO: Emily Paul of Panama City, Fla., is pictured in images shared on a missing poster released after she went missing in 2013. (WMBB)

"We requested photographs be taken and asked that they collect other proof of her identity," the Bay County Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "An investigator with that agency spoke with Emily, one on one, for a period of time. Emily stated that she was safe, she had a support system and she was happy where she was."

She appeared to be in good health and was at the police station alone, the sheriff's office said.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office has not disclosed where Paul is.

"The Missing Person case of Emily Paul is officially closed," the sheriff's office said in a statement Wednesday, adding, "We would like to thank everyone who spent countless hours trying to locate Emily over the last five years."

While the mystery remains surrounding Paul's disappearance and current location, one cousin is just relieved to know she is OK.

"I am over the moon to know she's alive. I have spent the past five years, we all have... hoping, praying, dreaming, wishing," her cousin, Melissa Parker, told WMBB. "I love you, we all love you so much and no matter how much time goes by, no matter what happens, what has happened, we will always be here for you."