UPDATE: Barbara Miller, Shelby Jacks' mother, told The Huffington Post today that the two Indiana runaways were found at a home in Minnesota after a five-week search. Miller said that the two had been living at an unknown person's house in Minnesota since they went missing on Aug. 3. They are now reportedly in police custody, possibly because one of them missed a probation hearing over an unrelated incident.
Miller said that Jacks and Shelbie Rasberry called a friend in Indiana over a landline earlier today. That friend then called Gas City police, who worked with cops in Minnesota to track the two down.
It's yet unclear what the girls' relationship was to their host in Minnesota.
It's been five weeks since two Indiana teenagers were dropped off at a Chicago bus station and disappeared to travel "like gypsies" to an unknown destination.
Best friends Shelbie Rasberry and Shelby Jacks reportedly crafted a carefully orchestrated plan to run away with the help of other friends. Someone else bought the pair their bus tickets, while one or two other friends drove them to Chicago, and there was a going away party for Rasberry and Jacks, according to Gas City police.
But the teenagers' parents didn't get a whiff of their plans until they were gone, and now all they want is a phone call to know that the two young women are safe.
"She knows what this is doing to me. She knows this is killing me," said Rasberry's mom Denise Fieramusca to The Huffington Post. "We have to go to bed every night not knowing if our kids are alive or dead."
Jacks and Rasberry disappeared from Gas City, Indiana on Aug. 3. The last confirmed sighting of the teens occurred a few days later at a soup kitchen in the Twin Cities area. Since then, the police and the girls' parents have no idea where they've gone.
Jacks' mom believes her daughter is headed to Washington state to satisfy her burgeoning fondness for pot. The state possibly holds some allure because voters there this fall will decide in a referendum if weed should be legal.
"She's hung up on this smoking pot thing," Barbara Miller told The Huffington Post from her Tennessee home. "I feel sick. I've been looking every day and looking and looking. I have nothing to go by now. I've lost track of her."
Though Jacks lives with her father, Miller said she's extremely close with her daughter, who turned 17 on Monday. Miller said Jacks might have left because she was recently arrested for allegedly driving under the influence after drinking and smoking.
It's part of a rebellious phase that began last school year when Jacks was a sophomore, Miller said, during which Jacks was suspended for skipping class.
Rasberry, 16, has never been in trouble, her mother said, but she's been close friends with Jacks since they were 10. Rasberry wouldn't have let Jacks leave home alone, even though it was bound to upset her family, her mother said.
Though she didn't know it before Rasberry ran away, Fieramsuca said she has recently learned that her daughter regularly gets stoned too. Rasberry and Jacks allegedly envisioned rambling across the country "like gypsies," according to snippets Fieramusca said she's heard from the teens' friends.
The tip that the teens, who've been friends since they were 10, might wind up in Washington started with the one time they've gotten in touch with another friend from high school since their disappearance. Jacks and Rasberry used a stranger's cellphone to call a friend in Indiana. The unnamed friend showed the cellphone number to police. Cops called and reached a man who said the girls told him they're hitchhiking to Washington.
"They're young teenagers, so maybe they wanted to show some independence," Gas City Police Chief Kirk McCollum told HuffPost. "Our concern is that they went out on their own...the potential danger that's out there, especially with two young girls."
Fieramusca and Miller believe that their daughters' friends know more about their disappearance than they've let on. Each mom expressed frustration that police have been unable to pry any specific details from other teens who may have been involved in the disappearance.
Tracking Rasberry and Jacks has been difficult because they left their cellphones at home and haven't updated their Facebook accounts. Each teen left a note for their family, and Jacks' letter allegedly said that the pair does not plan to return until they turn 18. Each teen wrote that they would get in touch soon, but it's been about five weeks since they left.
"That's what's scaring us the most," said Fieramusca. "The fact that there hasn't been any calls at all."
Rasberry is 5 foot 5 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds. She has black hair and blue-green eyes. She has braces, a heart tattoo on her right wrist, and piercings in her nose, lip, tongue and ears.
Jacks is 5 foot 6 inches tall and weights 110 pounds. She has blond hair, blue eyes and numerous piercings.
Anyone with information should call the Gas City Police Department at (765) 674-2278.
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