Danielle Edson, teen missing after meeting with man she met online, returns home safely


On Sunday, Elko New Market mom Melissa Hartwell Hanson asked the public for help finding her teenage daughter, Danielle Edson, who had been missing and out of contact with family for more than a day.

As of Monday night, Hartwell Hanson had deleted her then-viral Facebook post, and replaced it with a much better message: Danielle was home, apparently unharmed, after what looks like an attempt at running away that was soon abandoned. 

According to her mother's original post, Edson, 16, had disappeared Saturday after meeting with an adult man she'd met on the MeetMe app, a social networking tool that has previously been linked to predatory behavior targeting teenage girls.

Details are scarce in Hartwell Hanson's update, but she thanked the police departments of Elko New Market, Jordan, and Minneapolis, as well as Target: It was a Target in Lakeville where she had originally dropped Danielle. Surveillance camera footage later showed the minor entering a Mitsubishi Eclipse, believed to be driven by a man who was around 30 years old.

Elko New Market police told the Star Tribune that Edson was unharmed, and that she'd been in the early stages of running away from home, before thinking better of it.

About a quarter of the MeetMe app's 40 million users are under age 18. MeetMe was previously sued by the city of San Francisco over its privacy policy and its role in sex crimes against minors; the company settled for $200,000 and pledged to rewrite its privacy policy, which includes geolocation technology, to only list the city and state of its minor users. 

Under the terms of the lawsuit, MeetMe also said it would rewrite its privacy policy "at the ninth grade level," as users can register for the app as young as 13 years old.