16-year-old Ankita Lavender told her dad that she was abducted by two men in a pickup truck on Tuesday night. Now she’s admitting she made up the story to try to get sympathy from her ex-boyfriend.
Investigators said the girl had recently separated with her boyfriend and was actively evading being found during a short but intensive search for her.
Authorities say Ankita Lavender called her father around 7:20 p.m. claiming she had been abducted near Ridaught and County Road 220.
Lavender’s mother called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, saying, “The father is talking to her right now and she says she was kidnapped by two guys in a pickup truck.”
Officials said the phone had been shut off after Lavender made the initial call.
Over the next couple of hours, 40 Clay County deputies assisted by a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helicopter searched the area north of Middleburg for any sign of the girl. An Amber Alert was issued, but public notifications were not made before she was located.
About 10:25 p.m., a motorist driving on Henley Road at the intersection of Carlotta spotted a girl lying on her back on the shoulder of the road — less than one mile from where Lavender claimed she was abducted — and called 911.
Deputies said Lavender was emotionally upset and complaining of injuries from being thrown from the vehicle. She was taken to Orange Park Medical Center to be examined.
When questioned by detectives, Lavender admitted making up the story. She said she was despondent over her break up with her boyfriend and “decided to play the sympathy card.”
Neighbor Tanja Bennett, who lives just down the street from Lavender, said the neighborhood was lit up Tuesday night by the search light of a helicopter searching for the teen.
“I’m locking the doors, making sure everything is secure, and you know, I just went to bed thinking about it,” Bennett said. “Because it was late when we were reading about it. It was the last thing on my mind.”
Prosecutors will review the case for possible charges such as filing a false police report, a misdemeanor.