Last Update: June 21, 2023, 2:30 p.m.

A 14-year-old girl who went missing from Marathon on the morning of June 14 was found in Alabama within 36 hours, according to Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay and family members in communication with the Weekly.

Social media posts began circulating Wednesday afternoon when the family of Phoebee Elizabeth Ritchie reported her as missing. According to the posts, Ritchie was last seen at a bus stop in Marathon around 7 a.m., but did not report to summer school in Marathon as expected.

Various reports sent to the Weekly throughout that night and the morning of June 15 detailed slightly different versions of events. Speaking with the Weekly at 1 p.m. on June 15, Ramsay said that the Sheriff’s Office believed the incident was a case of a runaway, not an abduction.

“This is not someone that we believe was a snatch-and-grab from a bus stop. … It’s still important, still concerning, and she’s been listed into state and national databases as a missing runaway,” he said. He reiterated several times that MCSO did not believe the case was a “nefarious foul play situation” at that time.

Ramsay said that an interview with the girl’s grandmother and primary caregiver, Audrey Curtiss, showed “a change in (Phoebee’s) routine” the day before she was reported as missing, and that he believed there had been prior confrontation between Ritchie and Curtiss.

An update to the original social media post around 4 p.m. on June 15 indicated that Ritchie had been found.

Ramsay confirmed to the Weekly at 4:30 p.m. the same day that Ritchie had been located in Alabama and that the case was a runaway as expected, with no foul play involved. It was not immediately clear how the teen had reached her final destination.

Speaking with the Weekly in follow-up messages on June 19, Curtiss confirmed Ritchie had been found and had returned to Marathon, but disputed earlier reports of confrontation between the two, saying there “had not been any problems with Phoebee in over a year.”

“Thank you to the men and women on the police force who were so diligent in searching for her and bringing her back home safely,” she said.

Alex Rickert
Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.