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Missing Utah teens found in Hollywood, will be coming home

Published December 11, 2012 1:20 pm

Road trip • Teens hitchhiked from Carbon County to S. California.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Two Carbon County teens missing for two weeks have been taken into custody by police in Los Angeles and will be returned to their families in Utah.

Helper Police Chief Trent Anderson confirmed Tuesday that Mattea Jeffs, 17, and her 16-year-old boyfriend, Jesse Turner, were in good health. Anderson said Los Angeles police located the couple at a Hollywood home about 5:30 p.m. Monday.

"They have been taken into protective custody for the time being, until arrangements can be made to return them to their families," the chief said.

The teens went missing Nov. 29, and were sighted a few days later in Utah County. Then the trail went cold, Anderson said.

The chief said he had learned the name of a woman the teens knew in the Los Angeles area. "We researched that and came up with a good address" for Los Angeles police to check, Anderson said.

He said Jeffs' mother planned to drive to California to pick up her daughter, while Turner's family was in the process of making arrangements to retrieve him.

Earlier Monday The Salt Lake Tribune had contacted Jeffs through a Facebook account, and she and Turner then called the newspaper from a California area code.

Turner and Jeffs said they were about to begin hitchhiking back to Utah.

"I wanted out of Price and Helper and all the things there," Jeffs said in a telephone conversation. She insisted there were no problems at home or in Carbon County that spurred her running away.

"I have a really good home life," she said. "They're awesome. My family is really awesome."

Turner said he and Jeffs spent their first night on the run in a canyon then began hitchhiking.

"It wasn't really fun sleeping outside in cold weather," Turner said.

After speaking with the teens, the Tribune contacted Jeffs' father and gave him their telephone number.