8-year-old Mesa girl has been found safe

Mesa Police confirmed Leilani Miller was found safe Saturday morning after an exhaustive search.

MESA, Ariz. -After an extensive search that involved more than 100 officers, 8-year-old Leilani Miller was found safe Saturday morning, Mesa Police said. 

The 8-year-old Leilani was first reported missing Friday afternoon. She was last seen near Hawthorne Elementary School near Stapley and University drives. 

Her family was up all night looking for her. That's why everyone was stunned to learn that she had been just feet away the entire time. 

"I went walking, and they found me," Leilani said. 

It's a simple ending to a complicated search that went through the night.

"Strangers, people we've never met before, over 120 police officers at all times," said Jane Raley, Leilani's grandmother.

"That was our biggest fear was then, thinking that poor little thing, our baby, was out there in the dark, all alone," said her grandfather. 

It turns out, Leilani had made a pact with a friend to meet under a palm tree next to the school. When her friend never showed up, she went out on her own. 

Leilani spent the entire night in hedge, just feet away from the school. With her backpack on to keep her warm, she fell asleep. 

Saturday morning, police said two detectives found Leilani just after 7 a.m. The detectives were rechecking locations from the previous day and rounded a corner in the neighborhood only blocks away from Hawthorn Elementary. 

They found Leilani walking on a sidewalk. Police said she appeared a bit disheveled, "but in otherwise good condition."

"It was a nice guy police and two lady police," Leilani said. 

She's happy to be back at home, with just a few scratches and one very big lesson.

"I learned a lesson. Stay home," Leilani said. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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