Indiana teen who vanished in April while walking to her bus stop found safe in Florida


Grandmother and aunt of missing Indiana 14-year-old girl are arrested and accused of KIDNAPPING her and keeping her in a Florida hotel room for four months

  • Aaliyah Ramirez, 14, of Syracuse Indiana, went missing on April 27 after heading out to school, prompting a large-scale investigation to locate her
  • Police found her in the custody of her grandmother, Elizabeth Sands, 47, and aunt, Allissa Sands, 25, in Palm Beach County, Florida
  • Aaliyah’s mother, Ashi Aspy, claims her own mother kept the teen in a hotel 
  • Police had suspected that Ramirez was with relatives in the area, but previous searches of their home came up empty 
  • Aaliyah’s case was featured on Dateline and In Pursuit with John Walsh

An Indiana teen who has been missing since April has been found safe, nearly four months later in Florida – as her grandmother and aunt are arrested and accused of kidnapping her and keeping her inside a hotel room. 

Aaliyah Ramirez, 14, of Syracuse Indiana, was last seen going to her bus stop on April 27 before she suddenly disappeared, triggering a large scale search by Indiana State Police. 

The investigation led them to Palm Beach County, Florida, where police arrested Elizabeth Sands, 47, and Allissa Sands, 25. Elizabeth is Aaliyah’s grandmother and Allissa is her aunt. 

Aaliyah’s mother, Ashi Aspy, accused Elizabeth and Allissa of keeping the teen in a hotel room for months. 

Police confirmed that Aaliyah had been located safe and alive, but did not comment on any details regarding the case, WPTV reports.  

Aaliyah Ramirez, went missing on April 27 while leaving from her home in Syracuse, Indiana. Police tracked her down to Palm Beach County, Florida

Elizabeth Sands

Allissa Sands

Elizabeth Sands, Aaliyah’s grandmother, left, and Allissa Sands, Aaliyah’s aunt, were arrested 

Aaliyah’s dance instructor, Hailey Toy, who comforted the family for the last four months, said she started shaking when she heard the teen had finally been found, WNDU reported. 

‘I was running around this apartment. It felt good. The fact that she was found safe… it makes me feel so good. I always had hope that she was still alive,’ Toy said.

Aaliyah’s disappearance case rose to the spotlight when it was featured on popular TV shows like Dateline and In Pursuit with John Walsh. 

A video of her leaving her home on Parkway Drive to go to school recorded from a Ring door camera was shared around online and a social media campaign erupted online with the #FindAaliyahRamirez.  

Photos of Ramirez circulated with the hashtag #FindAaliyahRamirez after she went missing

Photos of Ramirez circulated with the hashtag #FindAaliyahRamirez after she went missing

The Syracuse Police Department put a silver alert for Ramirez on Aug. 30

The Syracuse Police Department put a silver alert for Ramirez on Aug. 30

A silver alert was issued on April 30, three days after she went missing, and it remained active during the search.

Her father, Anthony, had told Dateline NBC in May that he believed someone had abducted his daughter, saying she was not the type to runaway. 

‘I just want my daughter back home,’ Anthony said. ‘I want her found safe.’ 

The Syracuse Police Department and Indiana State Police had suspected Aaliyah to be in Palm Beach County with her other relatives, saying they believed she might be in danger. 

Elizabeth and Allissa Sands are both being held at Palm Beach County jail.  

No charges have been filed against the women as of yet, police said. 

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