APPLE VALLEY (CBS) — A missing Hesperia teen was found safe Wednesday morning in an Apple Valley hotel room.

Jessie Bender, 13, was found at unharmed Wednesday, but authorities say the girl’s family withheld critical information, and as a result, delayed the investigation and recovery of their daughter.

Authorities say their investigation began when the teen was first reported missing to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and Hesperia Police Department on Feb. 24 by her mother. The girl’s family said they last saw Jessie around 1:15 a.m. on Feb. 21. They told investigators that the teen may have runaway because she didn’t want to go on a two-month trip to Pakistan with her mother.

Several days later, investigators contacted the Bender family again. Jesse’s mother then told detectives that she thought her daughter was abducted by someone she met on Facebook. Upon receiving that new information, the sheriff’s and police departments contacted the FBI, United State’s Marshall’s Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Los Angeles, Glendora and Chicago police departments.

According to Hesperia police, those agencies conducted an investigation into the possible abduction of Jesse Bender, but were unable to uncover any evidence that supported the claim. During their search, information surfaced from cell phone and computer records that led authorities to focus on the Bender family.

Authorities say they discovered that a Bender family member hid Jessie at an Apple Valley hotel out of fear the teenage would be taken to Pakistan for an arranged marriage. The family later took detectives to the hotel where they found the teen unharmed.

Jessie and her three siblings have since been taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services while detectives complete an investigation.

A report will be given to the District Attorney for review and possible charges.

Comments (11)
  1. Laura says:

    All Lies just a bunch Lies. Lets talk about how you were selling your daughter to be married off to her so called Step Dad’s brother. Step Dad? I thought u werent married to him.hmmmm This smells like poop. Good Job to the uncle for making sure his niece was safe. Now the police need to get off there ass and find out about this child selling that was about to happen

  2. Laura says:

    Thank God about time Melissa gets what is coming to her. I just hope the police back off of the uncle and go after the Mom. Sick Parent

  3. Joe says:

    what the hel is wring with these so called parents!

  4. Brian Kocher says:

    When this country was founded, people came to America to become Americans. Now they come here to try and change America into the country they came from. If you want to live in a country like your home country, then why don’t you just stay there!!

  5. Mary says:

    Thankful the girl is safe now. DCFS will make sure she doesn’t go any where until she is 18 – by then, she can make the choice to marry or not. I am always proud of young kids who stand up against abusive adults. Job well done young lady… you should be very proud of yourself. This is a reminder to all minors, young adults – if anyone is hurting you, physically or mentally, report it to a teacher, or police officer – there is no reason to ever have to go through this type of stuff anymore. We live in 2011, not in the late 1960’s or early 70’s , the time of my abuse.

  6. Mary says:

    Jessie Tender – I am very proud of you.

  7. American says:

    Sick disgusting people. they should kick her mother out of this country send her ass to Pakistan so that P.O.S can see what kind of SH@T she was going to send her daughter to.

    I have a 13 year old daughter and just could not imagine even thinking of my girl as some kind of property that could be given to some disgusting guy that’s my age and letting have his way. I WOULD KILL !!

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