Boyfriend's grandma accused of harboring runaway after missing 13-year-old girl found in West Fargo
WEST FARGO – The grandmother of a 13-year-old girl’s boyfriend was arrested on Thanksgiving Day after authorities said she harbored the runaway girl and lied about it to police.
West Fargo police reported shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 23, that Margaret Hansen, 53, was arrested on suspicion of harboring a runaway, hindering an investigation and providing false information. She was being held at the Cass County Jail.
In a news release, West Fargo police said they helped Fargo police in looking for the 13-year-old, Carlyse Ditch, who was reported missing at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22. Police were told Ditch was last seen by her 16-year-old boyfriend about 5 p.m. Wednesday at his apartment in the 3400 block of Fifth Street West in West Fargo.
Detectives searched the apartment and immediate area in the early morning hours Thursday and didn’t find Ditch. West Fargo police said there were concerns about the missing girl because her coat, shoes and cellphone were left at her boyfriend’s place.
Based on the circumstances, the Red River Child Abduction Response Team was activated to help in the search. But as the search team gathered, West Fargo officers learned that Hansen had the girl and was willing to meet police to turn her over, police said.
West Fargo police said Hansen apparently harbored the runaway girl and gave false information to authorities about her whereabouts during the initial investigation.
Ditch was not injured, according to police.
The community first learned of Ditch’s disappearance through a Facebook post by the Fargo Police Department on Wednesday evening. At the time, Fargo police said she was last seen walking home with a friend late Tuesday in south Fargo’s Osgood neighborhood, and hadn’t been seen since the two separated near the girl’s home.
An update to that post Thursday said Fargo and West Fargo police were “actively investigating” the girl’s disappearance and said she was last seen Wednesday afternoon at a home on Fifth Street West in West Fargo. That update encouraged local residents to check their property, including sheds and outbuildings, for signs of the girl but not to conduct large-scale searches.
"We have noticed discussions on various social media sites of coordinating public searches," the update said. "We will notify the public if law enforcement decides to coordinate any large-scale area searches."
The Facebook post was shared nearly 6,000 times by Thursday afternoon.
Authorities reported at about 2 p.m. Thursday that Ditch had been found in West Fargo.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Hansen. She is the grandmother of 13-year-old girl's boyfriend.