Update: Stockton police report Tereza Thomas was found by law enforcement in another county and released to a family member. Melvin Goree was also questioned by police and released.
MODESTO — On Sunday, Teresa Thomas was trying to be strong as she desperately searched for her missing daughter.
“I’m just dying inside and I need her to come home,” Thomas said.
Thirteen-year-old Tereza Thomas has been missing for a week.
“It has been the worst nightmare. It is long, we’ve slept maybe an hour to two each day,” Tereza’s mother said. “You close your eyes and the things you imagine are unforgettable. No parent should have to endure this.”
Teresa Thomas said her daughter is a student at James Rutter Middle School in Stockton. She believes her daughter was coerced to leave.
“She’s an awesome child. She does travel softball,” she explained. “She goes to a school where she’s in honor classes. She’s a cheerleader at the school. I mean, she has an awesome life and it’s hard to except that something like this can happen.”
Detectives say the teen’s disappearance is considered high risk because of her age and the fact that it’s her first time leaving home.
Tereza was last seen at her grandmother’s house in Stockton last Sunday night when she went to bed. When her grandmother woke up the next morning, the girl was gone.
“This 25-year-old man sent a cab to my mom’s house at midnight and picked her up and we have not seen her since,” Teresa Thomas stated.
Police confirmed a man named Melvin Goree, 25, is a person of interest in her disappearance.
Teresa Thomas’ worst fear is that her daughter is now a victim of sex trafficking.
“We have talked to her but the messages are not her. They’re not the words she uses. We’ve compared them to other texts,” Thomas said. “We’ve seen her on videos but you can tell people are guiding what she’s saying and when she says too much the computer ends or the feed ends immediately. It is … it is absolutely terrifying every day.”
She told FOX40 they have received several tips her daughter was sighted in known prostitution areas across the Central Valley. So, the family has formed a search party.
Teresa Thomas was in Modesto Sunday, where the search for Tereza continued.
“We’ve been posting up flyers, all of us. We have her picture on our phone,” Thomas said. “So we talk to everybody that’s walking in stores, in the hotels, everywhere. And the stuff that we’ve seen is just atrocious these last six days but we have been out here and we will not stop until we find her.”
Whatever the reason Tereza Thomas left, her mother says she belongs home and has this message for her daughter:
“I love you TT. Please come home. We’re waiting for you. We don’t care what happened or why you left or what happened while you were gone. My door is open. We are ready and waiting to come and love you and bring you home to us. Please come home.”
If you have any information about the missing teen or Melvin Goree you’re asked to call Stockton police.