Update: 7:00 a.m., March 7, 2014:
We have just learned that Kaitlyn Jesse has been located safe in Phoenix, Arizona. Thank you to everyone who shared her story and photo!
The family of a missing Michigan teen is pleading for the public's help tonight in locating her.
Sixteen-year-old Kaitlyn Jesse disappeared Tuesday, March 4, 2014, sometime between midnight and 6 a.m.
It is believed she is in the company of another female teen, although that child has not yet been reported missing.
Kaitlyn's mother, Ruth Jesse, first learned of her daughter's disappearance around 6 a.m. Tuesday, when a sibling noticed she was not in her bedroom. She immediately checked the premises, discovered the family's 2003 Ford Explorer was missing, and notified authorities.
This is every parents' worst nightmare", Ruth Jesse said.
While it is a situation every parent fears, there is a disturbing element to the teen's disappearance that has her family pleading for the public's help: a note was found at the Jesse home -- reportedly written by Kaitlyn -- expressing the need to leave in order to keep her loved ones out of 'harm's way'.
I don't understand it," Ruth said. "It doesn't make sense".
When questioned, those who know Kaitlyn indicated she -- and the friend -- recently discussed the possibility of traveling "west"; possibly North Dakota or California.
According to financial records, Kaitlyn withdrew funds from her debit card at an ATM machine at the Family Express on Mariplex Drive in Portage, Indiana, approximately 220 miles' west of her home in Westland, MI. For that reason, Ruth believes the rumor that her daughter could be traveling "west" holds merit, and is asking the public to keep an eye out for the teen(s) and her vehicle.
Kaitlyn Jesse is 5'4" tall, weighing 120 pounds, with waist-length, medium-brown hair and blue eyes. She is near-sighted and wears contacts, but may switch to glasses. She is believed to be driving a red, two-door, Ford Explorer, with Michigan (MI) license plate number CD38980. The running board on the driver's side is partially hanging off and in need of repair.
Due to the circumstances of Kaitlyn's disappearance -- and the note found in the family's home -- Ruth fears her daughter may be running in fear of something -- or someone -- and feels unable to contact her. It is with this knowledge that Ruth makes the following plea to Kaitlyn:
Kaitlyn, whatever reason you are afraid...I will fix it. Whatever problem you feel is keeping you from home...I will fix it. I will go to the end of the earth and back to find you and bring you home safe because I love you more than I love myself. I love your life more than I love my own life. I need you to be home because my heart is incomplete without you. There's a hole in my heart that your everyday smile filled. I told you when my friend lost her daughter that I couldn't live without you and now I see what it would be like. I was right. I can't function not knowing that your safe. I keep going to turn to you to tell you something when it's funny or crazy and you're not there. When I remember, my heart sinks. I need you in my life every day because you are my life. Please be smart. Please be safe. Please call me. Please come home my beautiful, sassy daughter."
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Kaitlyn Jesse is asked to call 911, the Westland, MI, Police Department at (734) 722-9600, or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. Reference NCMEC case # 1229289.
To view a photo likeness of the 2003 Ford Explorer -- or for more information -- you may access the "Help Find Kaitlyn Jesse" page here.