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'Anytime I close my eyes, I see her face': Mother, authorities continue search for missing Arvada teen

rylynn fendley found.jpg
Posted at 11:52 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-19 19:43:38-04

UPDATE | 5:42 p.m. — Rylynn Fendley was found safe on Aug. 19.

ARVADA, Colo. — Authorities are continuing to search for a missing 16-year-old with intellectual developmental disabilities from Arvada who hasn't been seen or heard from since Friday.

Rylynn Fendley was last seen getting into a navy blue van on Friday evening along the 6400 block of Quail Street in Arvada, but authorities have located the driver and van, and investigators determined that the driver gave Rylynn a ride to a local bus stop, police said.

The Arvada Police Department said Wednesday they received a video from RTD confirming that Rylynn did get on a bus Friday evening at 7:55 p.m. and arrived at 17th and Larimer at 8:34 p.m.

Det. David Snelling with the Arvada Police Department said after consulting with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, authorities have no reason to believe Rylynn was abducted, so an Amber Alert has not been issued.

Snelling said Rylynn's cell phone pinged twice on Friday in downtown Denver, but hasn't connected to another cell tower since.

Veronica Fendley, Rylynn's mother, said her daughter has autism, epilepsy, and an intellectual disorder, and requires medication. She functions at the level of a 9-year-old and doesn't understand "stranger danger," Veronica said.

She said her daughter got upset with her on Friday after an argument about posts on Snapchat. Veronica said she turned the service off of Rylynn's phone.

Around 6:45 p.m. that day, Veronica was in the shower when she heard the front door open and close, she said. She said she put on clothes and from her apartment balcony, could see Rylynn at a gas station down the street. She said she watched Rylynn get into a van and then the driver left the area.

Veronica said she called police and described what she could see of the van and the driver, and then called family and friends.

She also turned the service back on Rylynn's phone in hopes it would ping somewhere and police could determine her whereabouts. The phone pinged Friday night in downtown Denver near Union Station, but has not since, Veronica said. She said she believes Rylynn was trying to reach her grandmother, who lives in the area of Stout Street, but the teen doesn't know how to get there.

The phone has not been active since — no texts, calls, or activity on social media. Veronica said she's not sure if it's off, dead, lost or stolen.

She said police told her the van driver contacted police after seeing his vehicle on the news. Police said he cooperated with them and welcomed them to go through his van, phone and home, Veronica said.

She said her biggest fear is that Rylynn has been without her life-saving epilepsy medication all this time. She takes medication twice a day daily to keep seizure activity at bay, but it only works if taken on a regular basis, Veronica said.

The longer she goes without the medication, the greater the chances she will have a seizure, she said, adding that Rylynn has had some seizures that last for several hours and require a hospital visit.

"I'm terrified. I'm terrified for her safety and well-being. I'm terrified for her to become incapacitated in a way that someone could potentially take even greater advantage of her," Veronica said. "Every nightmare situation that I could think of has played in my head. I'm living a nightmare, currently."

She pleaded for Rylynn to return home.

"Anytime I close my eyes, I see her face," Veronica said. "And she says to me, 'Mommy, help me.' And that — I just can't. As her mother, being just so helpless and not knowing what I do, what needs to be done, how do I get the word out — I'm sick."

Rylynn is described as a white 16-year-old girl standing 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighing about 160 pounds. She has brownish-blue eyes, police said.

When she went missing, she was wearing a purple fleece jacket, black leggings, and white shoes. She had a black backpack, police said.

In addition to Arvada police, the CBI, Jefferson County Human Service, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are working to find her.

Anybody with information on Rylynn's whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Arvada police at 720-898-6900.