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FBI joins search for missing Ohio teen after her keys, phone found in abandoned car

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After a multi-day search for 18-year-old Madison “Maddie” Bell, federal officials are now joining the effort to find the missing teen, who disappeared after heading to a tanning salon.

Bell, of Greenfield, Ohio, left home early Sunday morning to go tanning, but she never returned, her mother says.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) have gotten involved in the investigation, according to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office.


Maddie’s mother, Melissa Bell, told NBC’s Dateline that she was cleaning when Madison yelled out, “Mom, I’m going to tan. I’ll be right back.”

“But she never came back,” Melissa Bell told Dateline.

After becoming concerned for her daughter’s safety, Melissa told police she pinged Madison’s cell phone because her daughter didn’t return home and didn’t respond to calls or texts.

The pinging resulted in finding Madison’s car at the Good Shepherd Church parking lot, roughly 100 yards from the tanning salon, unlocked, unoccupied, with her phone in the front seat and keys in the ignition.

According to the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, a description of the clothing Bell was wearing at the time is not available.


Sheriff Donnie Barrera of the Highland County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline that his office received a report from a church employee that a white car with California plates was spotted in the parking lot early that Sunday morning.

Investigators are looking for a white car (pictured in the tweet below) that was seen entering and exiting the church parking lot on Sunday morning.

In addition to the church employee, other witnesses said they also saw the car and reported seeing a male in his late 20s to early 30s with light hair and a polo shirt.

Sheriff Barrera told Dateline that security camera footage spotted the car, but authorities weren’t able to make out whether the car had occupants inside.


Additional law enforcement agencies have joined the search for Maddie, including the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, Greenfield Police, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Maddie’s home, where she was last seen, is in Ross County, which is why that particular agency has joined the search, Sheriff Barrera told Dateline.

“Everyone is so worried about her,” Melissa told Dateline. “She has made such an impact on the people in her life. She’s just so loved.”

Bell weighs between 120 and 125 pounds, is 5’6″ tall, has brown hair and brown eyes.

Bell has grey contact lenses and a cross tattoo on her neck, as well as a ghost tattoo on her side, according to police.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Highland County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 393-1421.

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