A 12-year-old Chinese girl who was thought to have been abducted from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Thursday was found safe and sound with her parents in Queens, New York, on Friday afternoon, according to the Metro Washington Airport Authority.
"We are grateful that Jinjing is safe and with family. Our goal was to locate her to ensure she was safe and unharmed, and we accomplished that goal," David Huchler, police chief for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said in a statement.
Jinjing Ma, traveling with a student tour group from China, was supposed to head from Washington to San Francisco and then return to China on Thursday, police said.
At the airport, she separated from the group, saying she needed to use the bathroom, and left the airport with an Asian woman who police believed to be an abductor.
Ma seemed to walk voluntarily with the woman, who appeared on airport surveillance footage with an Asian man earlier. The man left the airport driving a white Infinity, with Jinjing thought to be inside.
Authorities issued a missing child alert, asking the public to report any sightings of the girl.
Less than 48 hours later, the airport authority said she had been "located Friday in the New York City borough of Queens, safe and in the custody of her parents".
The Chinese embassy in Washington confirmed that report.
The FBI, which is investigating, didn't respond to China Daily's question of whether the man and woman at the airport were Jinjing's parents.
The parents are represented by Anna Demidchik, of Demidchik Law Firm in New York, who said they hadn't seen their daughter for two years and did pick her up her at the airport.
"We are really happy now," Jinjing's father told the media.
Demidchik said Jinjing's parents are legal residents of New York. She said she wasn't authorized to disclose why Jinjing left the group after being given her passport to check in for the San Francisco flight. "It's a misunderstanding," she said.
Jinjing, who had been in the care of her grandparents in China, will stay with her parents in New York while cooperating with the FBI investigation, Demidchik said.
On Thursday, a witness from Jinjing's tour group told the police that the girl was approached by an Asian couple at the World Trade Center when the group was sightseeing earlier in New York.
"We believe the contact up in New York is connected with the contact" in Washington, said Huchler on Friday.
Demidchik declined to comment on whether Jinjing's parents had met her in New York.