Police are crediting social media spotlight and the help of news outlets in tracking down Rosie O'Donnell's 17-year-old daughter, who was found in New Jersey Tuesday after missing for a week.
Chelsea O'Donnell, who suffers from mental illness, was found safe at a home in Barnegat Light Tuesday afternoon, hours after her famous mother tweeted about the girl's disappearance and posted a message on her website. The teenager was returned to her mother's home in South Nyack Tuesday night, a week to the day after she ran off with her 6-month-old therapy puppy.
"We’re all very happy she’s home safe and sound," said Bonnie Christian, the mayor of South Nyack.
South Nyack police said Chelsea O'Donnell had left her cellphone home but had been contacting people with a new one, and police believed she was in a Barnegat Light home down the Jersey Shore. They reached out to authorities there, and Barnegat police went to the home.
Although the person answering the door initially did not want to reveal Chelsea O'Donnell's presence, police said they would not leave until she came out, according to Lt. Keith Germain, spokesman for Barnegat police. She then appeared with her dog and left with police without incident.
She waited to be picked up by South Nyack police at the Barnegat Township Police Department, and left the New Jersey police station late Tuesday night, out of sight of news cameras.
Rosie O'Donnell tweeted shortly before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that "chelsea has been found safe and is safe in police custody - thank u all for the help and light #missingchildren."
It was not immediately clear what relationship Chelsea O'Donnell had with the people who lived in the Barnegat Light house. Rosie O'Donnell has a vacation home in the Jersey shore area.
A representative for Rosie O'Donnell said the teen hadn't been taking her medication for mental illness, which intensified concern for the family. Authorities did not elaborate on the teenager's mental condition.