Heartbreaking story of missing Memphis teen has a happy ending

by: Marius Payton Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The search for Debra Stewart is over. She was found less than 24 hours after our investigation on her case aired.

Tunjia Akemon is Debra’s mom. She and her husband searched for the 14-year-old nearly every night since her disappearance.

>> FOX13 Investigates: The search for Debra Stewart

Debra went missing on February 14. She was classified by the Memphis Police Department as an endangered runaway, but her parents did not believe that told the full story.

Akemon told FOX13 her daughter was lured away from home by an adult, who then forced her into sex trafficking.

The family allowed our cameras to follow them during a search through the streets of Memphis. They went to apartment complexes and even approached strangers to ask if they had seen Debra.

>> VIDEO: Memphis mother’s heartbreaking search for missing daughter

All of those hours and hard work paid off Thursday morning because Debra came home.

“I’m very, very happy,” the teen’s mother told FOX13. “My heart is pounding so fast.

After months of pain, Tunjia Akemon was overcome with tears of joy.

“Thank you so much for helping me get my baby back. Thank you FOX13!”

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The family was ecstatic when we met with them. They said their hearts are once again whole for the first time since Valentine’s Day.

We got a brief chance to see Debra, and we asked her mom how she was doing.

“We’ve just had her for a couple of hours, so that’s why I really want to get back to her and just talk to her and get her the help she needs,” Akemon said. “She’s a little shaken, but she’s OK.”

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