HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Nearly a month since 15-year-old Jennifer Raquel Aguilera Del Cid was reported missing on November 12, police pushed out an alert to media Friday.
So why did it take so long to spread the word?
Henrico police said around 10 a.m. that morning, Jennifer left Tucker High School in an unknown direction.
A spokesperson with Henrico Schools told CBS 6 that Jennifer was marked tardy that day after she arrived late to school before leaving early. Because she was marked late and not absent, the spokesperson said her family wasn’t notified.
By the following school day, the family told the school division Jennifer was missing.
Henrico Police Spokesperson Lt. Matthew Pecka said the family reported Jennifer missing on November 12, but it wasn't until Friday that police and family collectively agreed to get the word out.
He said there could be several reasons for that including a decision made by the family. Another was that Jennifer is not considered endangered.
Lt. Pecka said each time a child goes missing, police must fill out a missing child report or SP-183 and submit it to Virginia State Police within two hours.
Officers check off boxes about the child’s condition, reporting if the child has a disability, is endangered, or is missing under circumstances indicating the disappearance was not voluntary.
Lt. Pecka said if the child falls into one of those three categories, police typically spring into action to spread the word and investigate immediately.
However, Lt. Pecka said Jennifer did not fall into any of those categories since she is believed to have left willingly on her own accord.
Kelli Bradley is the stepmom of Joni Bradley, another missing teen, who is from Powhatan. Bradley said she ran away on November 9.
Bradley believes policies need to change so that no matter the circumstances, every missing child’s case is investigated equally.
"I'm telling you, nobody wants to go through this and have their child not be seen as endangered for 24 days," said Bradley. "The fact that she chose to run, it doesn't mean that she's not in danger. She's out on the streets, I have no idea where she is, like, every day is getting harder and harder."
Lt. Pecka said police regularly get multiple reports of missing juveniles -- some cases resolve quickly.
He said with a large number of juveniles that go missing, it's a balancing act for police.
Anyone with information about Jennifer's whereabouts is urged to call Detective Minter at 804-928-0331 or School Resource Officer Cosel at 804-840-6273. If you have information and wish to remain anonymous, call Metro-Richmond Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000 or visit p3Tips.com online.
Anyone with information about Joni's whereabouts is asked to contact Detective Danny Joyner with the Powhatan County Sheriff's Office. You can reach him by calling (804) 598-5654, extension 4 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.