TV cameras and members of the media converged on the Bellevue Fire Training Site last week where Bellevue Police Chief Mark Elbert addressed the disappearance of teenager Michaela Wells on March 2.
The case garnered some national attention because Wells holds the title of 2013 USA National Miss Nebraska Teen.
Wells was located in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
In addition to the national pageant organization sharing a Facebook post containing details of Wells’ disappearance, numerous family members, friends and acquaintances posted the information on social media.
“This story has taken on a life of its own in the social media world,” Elbert said.
The world of social media is a double-edged sword, Elbert said.
Information can be extremely helpful and readily available, but it can also become sensationalized or inaccurate, he added.
For the Bellevue Police Department, Wells’ pageant title was not a critical piece of information in the investigation.
Wells was found safe at a residence in Indianapolis on Thursday night.
The 16-year-old was last seen by her mother, Theresa M. Norris, on March 2. Wells took out the trash at about 8:30 p.m. and didn’t return.
The FBI assisted in finding Wells in Indiana. She was found with a 16-year-old male who she knew, said Investigator Laurie Synowiecki, police spokeswoman.
“In statements to officials, she said she left her home in Bellevue on her own accord and was not taken against her will,” Synowiecki said.
After she was found, she was held by the Indiana Division of Family and Children.
Wells was brought back to Sarpy County on Saturday afternoon, Synowiecki said. She is being held at the Patrick J. Thomas Juvenile Justice Center.