PEACHTREE CORNERS, GA -- Jennifer Aliff has one word to describe what she was feeling when she realized the shadowy figure walking the street late Tuesday night was runaway Kelsie Lee. Relief.
The 12-year-old girl was reported missing early Monday morning from her home. Police and volunteers spent the entire day searching for Kelsie.
Aliff lives just a mile from the Lee home, but doesn't know them personally. She described a late night trip to the drugstore Monday to get one of her kids some poster board for a project that was due.
"You know, on my way to Walgreens I remember praying and saying, 'Lord, please don't let that little girl be out there afraid and alone. It was getting really cold when I left," said Aliff.
It was on her trip home from the store that she said she noticed what looked like a shadow at first.
"It was a small person walking with a backpack and I wondered who would be walking that late at night. It was around 11. I got home and immediately thought that isn't right. My husband encouraged me to go back and check it out," said Aliff.
As Aliff pulled up to that shadowy figure, she realized it was a small girl wearing a sweatshirt that was identical to the one described in the missing flyer that was handed out in the neighborhood.
"I pulled up next to her asked if she was Kelsie. She said yes immediately. She was clearly emotional and she said she was very scared. I think she was scared about what would happen when she returned home," said Aliff.
Aliff comforted her saying her parents would be overjoyed to see her and that a lot of people were looking for her.
Aliff said she managed to stay calm for Kelsie's sake, but when they got to the girl's home and she watched Kelsie sobbing in her parents' arms Aliff said she crumbled.
"It just hit me. What if that was my child. No 12 year old should be out by themselves that late at night. Anyone could have approached her. I'm just glad I saw her first," said Aliff.