UPDATE: Ashlee Ruhl of New Hampton found safe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

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UPDATE: Ashlee Ruhl of New Hampton found safe

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Ashlee Ruhl Ashlee Ruhl
NEW HAMPTON (KWWL) - Ashlee Ruhl, a 16-year-old missing from New Hampton, was found safe in Ft. Madison Friday, according to the New Hampton Police Department.

Ruhl had been missing since March 7. Officials had never said whether they believed the teen was a runaway.

Mother Shawna Larsen said police have instructed her not to speak to the media. However, she did say she is thankful to all the people that helped bring her child home safely.

Friends of the family believe the offered reward money led to her safe return.

"Shawna’s family had asked me to say thank you to everyone that donated to the fundraiser, and we’re glad that Ashlee is home safe," said Melissa Scheidel, who organized the fundraiser.

To date, they raised over $800 for the reward.

"It means so much to Shawna's family and even me," Scheidel said. "It’s a small community and to have community support like this is wonderful."

It's unclear where the reward money will go at this time, since family aren't sure who contacted investigators, if anyone.
    Authorities say they are now working on reuniting Ruhl with her family.

Police said there will be no further information released.



Shawna Larsen’s daughter, Ashlee Ruhl, has been missing for 20 days.

“I’m scared,” Larsen said. “Really, really scared. I want to protect my daughter, but I can’t because I don’t know where she’s at.”

In the weeks since Ashlee disappeared, the family has moved to a new home. Larsen said he daughter was excited for the move, but now, she can’t bear to unpack the boxes in Ashlee’s room.

“So it’s waiting for her when she comes home,” Larsen said.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations is involved in the case. The FBI has also offered its services.

There are plenty of rumors about what happened to Ashlee, but not many confirmed details. Still, the family is searching for her, and posting hundreds of flyers. But as the days drag on, no word from Ashlee.

Larsen said she is also concerned that since Ashlee didn’t take her car, even if she initially left willingly with someone, she might be unwilling now, and unable to return.

Family friend Melissa Sheidel is raising money to reward people for information that leads to Ashlee’s return.

“Because it gets people to talk,” she said. “We’re hoping that this will motivate people to come forward.”

They’ve already raised about $600.

As the efforts continue, Larsen said she would do anything to find her daughter.

“If anybody has her, she has a family that loves her very much, that wants her home,” she said. “ Please, let my daughter go. I just want her home. I want her home so bad.”

Scheidel's online fundraiser is available here: http://www.gofundme.com/ahlee-ruhl (That URL link is correct despite the misspelling of Ashlee's name.)

ORIGINAL STORY: A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed the FBI has offered assistance with the investigation of a missing 16-year-old from New Hampton.

According to authorities, Ashlee Ruhl has been missing for 20 days.

She is described as 5-foot-7 and 115 pounds with dark blonde hair and blue eyes.

Spokeswoman for the FBI Sandy Breault said Wednesday the FBI is not involved in the case, but has offered to help.

She deferred further questions about the case to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) or the New Hampton Police Department.

Calls to DCI were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

New Hampton Police Chief Mike Anderson confirmed DCI is assisting in the investigation.

"Our concern is that she has been missing for too long," said Anderson.

According to Anderson, this is the longest amount of time a girl has been missing in New Hampton during his 27 years with the police department.

Anderson said no Amber Alert has been issued for Ruhl because in order to do so, authorities need to know she is with someone and a general direction of where she might be.

Anderson said there is no reward money at this point for tips leading to information on her whereabouts; however, he confirmed he is talking with Crime Stoppers to see if the organization could help.

Meanwhile, family and friends have set up an online fundraiser to raise money for a reward leading to Ashlee's safe return.

More information can be found here: http://www.gofundme.com/ahlee-ruhl (That URL link is correct despite the misspelling of Ashlee's name.)

Anderson said authorities with the New Hampton Police Department, Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office and DCI plan to meet Friday to discuss whether they will utilize help from the FBI.

Click these links to read KWWL's previous coverage:



Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this report.
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