Tallassee teen found safe in Brewton; local missing girl’s mom reacts

Published 2:21 pm Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Brewton woman is being credited with the safe return of a Tallassee teen missing for 15 days.

Tallassee police reported the Brewton woman – who was not identified – recognized 14-year-old Kiara Neal from missing child alert Wednesday. Brewton police were then able to contact Neal and confirm her identity.

Neal was last seen on March 9 leaving Tallassee High School with a man, later identified as 30-year-old Willie Thomas III, on social media. Thomas was arrested on March 19 for a felony and contributing to the delinquency of a minor after police located him. Thomas allegedly said he’d “dropped the teen off” at another location.”

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Tallassee police traveled to Brewton Thursday to return Neal home.

It is unknown at this time how the girl made her way to Brewton; however, the incident brings to mind the investigation into Brewton’s own ongoing missing teen case.

“It’s been 47 days,” said Lisa Bridges, mother to 16-year-old Brooke Bridges who was last seen at the family’s home in the Alco Community. For weeks, investigators, including those with the federal and state bureaus of investigation, have attempted to locate the girl. Volunteers and emergency personnel have performed countless hours of physical searches of the area and waterways around the family’s Cottage Hill Drive home.

“We’ve heard nothing; no leads; nothing,” Bridges said of her daughter’s case. “It’s like she went ‘poof.’ I don’t understand it.”

Bridges said she was thrilled for the family of the now-found Tallassee teen.

“It’s wonderful news,” she said of the girl’s recovery. “I wish we could say the same thing, that Brooke was found; that she was safe. It does give me hope, though, knowing that girl made it home.”

When asked what she believes happened to her daughter, Bridges said, “I don’t know, but we can’t rule anything out. I don’t believe for a minute she ran away.

“I do know that police are working every day to bring Brooke home,” she said. “And for that, I’m grateful. I know they’re not going to give up. Us either.”