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Police: New Richland girl found safe in Albert Lea was at house for two days

A 16-year-old New Richland girl who was found safe at an Albert Lea house Thursday evening was reportedly at the Albert Lea home for two days before she was found.

Grace Cummins had last been seen Tuesday afternoon getting into a light blue semi tractor with an off-white grain trailer outside New Richland. The truck was heading south on Minnesota Highway 13 and then reportedly dropped the teenager off in Albert Lea near Minnesota Highway 13 and West Main Street.

Cummins was reportedly then picked up at an Albert Lea McDonald’s restaurant by Oscar Herold Mehus, 47, of Albert Lea, who intended to drive her to Burger King as it was raining, so she could get on a bus and leave the community, said Albert Lea Deputy Director of Police J.D. Carlson. Cummins and Mehus did not know each other prior to the incident.

There were reportedly no buses available, so Mehus allegedly drove her back to his home at 411 Commercial St. under the impression she was 18 years old. She reportedly stayed at the address until she was found two days later.

Mehus said he attempted to find out Cummins’ name using Facebook, and she reportedly later said she was 17.

Carlson said police were alerted to the girl’s location by a Waseca County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Mehus was cited for harboring a runaway.

Greg Jensen, a friend of Cummins’ family, said they were “very happy” she was found unharmed. He said her family wants to move on from the incident and declined further comment.

Prior to being found, Cummins had not had any contact with family or friends, and authorities said they were concerned for her welfare.

The Waseca County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension sent out a request for help in locating the girl Thursday morning, and a $25,000 reward was offered for anyone with information on her location. Posts about Cummins spread quickly on social media.

It is unclear whether the reward was paid.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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