A 14-year-old Portland girl missing since Jan. 27 was back in Maine with her parents Sunday night after being located the previous day in New York City.

Hilda Vanessa Sanaguaray-Upaya

Hilda Vanessa Sanaguaray-Upaya, a student at Deering High School, was found unharmed around 5:30 p.m. Saturday by detectives from the 43rd Precinct of the New York City Police Department. The precinct is located in the southeast section of the Bronx, a neighborhood where the runaway’s family had lived before moving to Portland.

Hilda had been missing for just over two weeks. Portland police said she ran from an area in the vicinity of the Northgate Shopping Center on Auburn Street after an argument with family members. At the time of her disappearance, she did not have a cellphone and was carrying a small amount of cash.

Portland police Lt. Robert Martin issued a statement Sunday saying the girl was “unharmed and had been reunited with her family.” The family lives in Portland’s North Deering neighborhood.

Martin, in response to a series of questions about Hilda’s disappearance, said she did not stay with relatives in New York City, but he declined to be more specific. Martin said the details of how she traveled from Portland to New York City “are still under investigation.”

“I believe she is in Maine now,” Martin said in an email Sunday night. “Her parents left for New York City after she was located to pick her up.”


Her parents could not be reached for comment Sunday night.

“We would like to thank the public for its help during this investigation. Our request for assistance in locating Hilda was spread through the local media and shared on several social media platforms. This resulted in crucial information that helped investigators locate Hilda,” Portland police said in a statement.

Martin said that social media played a significant role in helping police find Hilda, who speaks English and Spanish fluently.

After the police department posted a news release on Facebook and Twitter concerning her disappearance, Martin said it was viewed more than 60,000 times in the first three days.

“With all of the major news outlets also posting through their pages, the exposure was huge,” Martin said. “We began receiving calls within a few hours of this media saturation. One tip was crucial in identifying a potential location. That tip was one of the first received.”

Portland police recommend that parents contact them as soon as possible, after exploring all possibilities, to report a missing teenager. Authorities have the ability to publish law enforcement teletypes that go statewide or nationwide depending upon the circumstances.


“There are situations when a child might just be late returning home and (isn’t) answering a cellphone. This might not be the right time to call, but the parents should be doing what they can to locate the child. We should be called when they have exhausted what they can do,” Martin said.

He said parents should always know their child’s social media accounts, passwords and have unrestricted access to their child’s cellphone and any GPS information the cellphone may contain.

The Maine State Police, Moonachie Police Department in New Jersey, Newark Police Department in New Jersey, New York City Police Department – 43rd Precinct, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation helped in the investigation.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: bquimby

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