NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Florida teenager who disappeared for nearly a week is back home after allegedly running away with a high school soccer coach.
Ward and Scarlet Frisina traveled more than a thousand miles to reunite with their 17-year-old daughter Caitlyn after she was found safe in Syracuse, New York.
Seeing his daughter again for the first time was “like the weight of the world being off my shoulders, finally,” Ward Frisina told CBS News’ Meg Oliver.
Ward Frisina initially blamed himself for his daughter’s disappearance. He encouraged 27-year-old Rian Rodriguez to apply for the high school coaching job that brought him into their lives.
“Its been difficult. I’m glad I have my daughter back where I know I can protect her and keep her safe as a father always wants to do,” he said.
“How long did you hug her?” Oliver asked.
“I don’t know. Until we had to breathe I think,” Scarlet Frisina said.
Police say a New York State trooper noticed Rodriguez’s car with a Florida tag. The officer pulled him over in a shopping mall parking lot and arrested him without incident.
Frisina was in the passenger seat.
“Did she tell you why she left?” Oliver asked.
“We haven’t got into all of that that yet and we will at some point,” Scarlet Frisina said.
According to the arrest warrant, the teen’s father discovered sexual messages from Snapchat after she disappeared that “confirmed a possible relationship” between his daughter and Rodriguez.
Her mother was told by one of Caitlin’s friends that “Rian… [wanted Caitlyn] to leave the country with him” and “…she didn’t know how to get out of it ” and was afraid “…he would mess up her life.”
Rodriguez faces a felony charge in Florida of interfering with child custody and he could face additional federal charges for taking Frisina across state lines. Officials say if there are no local charges filed in New York, they expect Rodriguez to be extradited to Florida this week.