TOMS RIVER-The Toms River Police Department said today that reports of missing teen Ashley Nieratko are not a cause for alarm for the community and that the teen left home voluntarily.
“There is a chance she is with a friend, however, we are currently conducting an investigation to confirm her whereabouts,” said Toms River Police Department Spokesperson Jillian Messina. “There is nothing suspicious at this time. All indications are that she left home purposely and would not divulge her location to people she has had contact with.”
Her parents however have hired a lawyer and this week made threats against those harboring their daughter.
“Mr. and Mrs. Nieratko, the parents of missing Toms River teenager Ashley Combs, has retained an attorney to ensure that anyone who has their daughter is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Jef Henninger, Esq. stated: “I want to send a very clear message to the person or persons that may have Ashley. She is a minor and you have committed a very serious crime. We are giving you 24 hours to drop her off at any police station. If that is done, the family will not focus on what you have done. They will just be happy that she is back home.”
However, none of the local law enforcement agencies, including the Toms River Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office have issued an official missing persons release on the matter.
An email sent to Bryan Huntenburg, a press release writer for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office went unanswered with that agency.
Henninger gave those Combs is staying with an ultimatum to return her by 9 am Tuesday, but there is no indication that his demands were met.
“24 hours ago, I issued an ultimatum on behalf of my clients to the person or persons that have Ashley. The Facebook post reached over 700,000 people. When you add in the radio, TV and internet coverage, at least a few million of people have seen Ashley’s story,” he said. “Whoever has her clearly heard our ultimatum and they have ignored it. I realize that this was an unorthodox approach but it was necessary to either get her home quickly or to stop some people’s thinking that she is just a runaway and that this is no big deal.”
Henninger added, “While it is true that the evidence we have leads us to believe that she was not abducted from school, we have no evidence to believe that she had planned to be away from home for an extended period of time. She did not have a change of clothes or much money. We also don’t believe that she’s living on the street somewhere. Someone has her and that person knows that what they are doing is illegal and they don’t care. They are willing to sacrifice their job, their family and their own freedom by keeping Ashley away from her parents, family members, friends, school and a normal teenage life. To those that think she just ran away, ask yourself this: what type of person would risk everything to help a child runaway knowing that everyone is looking for her? Do you think that this person is mentally sound? Do you honestly think she is not in danger?”