Hancock County

Where is Courtlee? ‘A 16-year-old can’t just disappear into thin air!’

Melanie Bradford has not heard from her daughter, 16-year-old Courtlee Ann Hilton, in 15 days. Family and friends fear the Our Lady Academy junior is being held against her will and implore anyone with information about her whereabouts to contact authorities.
Melanie Bradford has not heard from her daughter, 16-year-old Courtlee Ann Hilton, in 15 days. Family and friends fear the Our Lady Academy junior is being held against her will and implore anyone with information about her whereabouts to contact authorities. calee@sunherald.com

Melanie Bradford fears that her 16-year-old Courtlee Ann Hilton, is being held somewhere against her will.

The teenager disappeared Sunday, Oct. 1, from a friend’s house in Long Beach.

“It has been 15 days and she has not contacted one single family member or one single friend, and that is not like her,” Bradford said in an interview Sunday.

Mother and daughter had their differences, so much so that her mother had taken away Courtlee’s cell phone and she had been staying for five days before her disappearance with her friend’s family in Long Beach, with her mother’s permission.

But mom and daughter were in touch daily, Bradford said. They were trying to work out their differences.

Courtlee, her mother said, is smart, artistic and athletic. She has been running varsity track since the seventh grade and was for two years a regional champion. She loves to paint and, like most teenagers, walked around most of the time with her phone attached to her hand.

She was in touch with her mother on her friend’s phone. Courtlee, a former St. Stanislaus High School cheerleader, and some girlfriends went to homecoming at St. Stanislaus the night before she disappeared.

Courtlee texted a picture of herself in her homecoming dress to Bradford. Bradford has not heard from her daughter since that text.

The Sunday Courtlee disappeared, her friend had gone somewhere with her father. The family thought Courtlee was in one of the bedrooms, but when they went to check, she was gone. They called the Long Beach Police Department.

No Ambert Alert was issued about Courtlee because she was classified as a runaway, Bradford said.

At this point, Bradford and two of her friends, sisters Liz Gardner and Tish Williams, said there aren’t even any promising leads regarding Courtlee’s whereabouts. Law enforcement officers believe Courtlee left the Long Beach house with clothes in her backpack.

Bradford said Courtlee is close to her grandmother, aunt, uncle, cousins and friends. Yet none of them have reported hearing from her.

The family believes she is probably still somewhere on the Coast, but they have no idea where.

Family and friends planned a prayer vigil for Sunday evening to bring attention to Courtlee’s disappearance and pray for her return.

“A 16-year-old can’t just disappear into thin air and there are no leads,” Gardner said. “Somebody has to know something.”

Williams said, “She could be anywhere. As a Coast community, we need to come forward.”

Anyone with information that might help locate Hilton is asked to call the National Center for Missing and Exploited children at 800-843-5678 or the Long Beach Police Department at 228-865-1981.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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