Missing teen who provoked FBI search says he left Bridgeport to get away from a 'personal situation'
A missing Bridgeport teen who's been safely reunited with his family in Waterbury after being missing for 16 days is opening up about the emotional ordeal.
Central High School freshman Jael Martinez described the ordeal to News 12 Connecticut's Frank Recchia, with his mother, Celeste Arias, at her home in Waterbury.
The 15-year-old says he walked away from Central High School on Sept. 27 and triggered an around-the-clock effort by friends and family to find him.
He says he needed to get away from "a personal situation in Bridgeport" that had "gotten out of control."
"It's very dysfunctional and I can't -- I just couldn't deal with it," said Martinez. "And I hadn't -- I hadn't seen my mom in three months -- so that's why, like, she was the first person that I came to."
But the teen says he panicked when he got to Waterbury and overheard his mother talking on the phone saying her son had gone missing.
"I left here, and I went to the train station and I hopped on the first bus that I saw -- it was a bus to Hartford," said Martinez.
On day five, Martinez's family made an appeal for help on News 12 Connecticut. The FBI got involved on day nine. This came after Arias says she received a $100,000 demand for her son's safe return, a demand officials deemed to be fraudulent. The demand claimed Martinez had been beaten up and kept in a basement in Hartford.
"It's crazy. I do not know why somebody would play with somebody's feelings like that," said Arias.
Arias says she received a call Thursday from someone in Hartford who had seen her son's photo on the news and says she rushed to get there to him.
"I went crazy, and I hugged him and I started crying," she said.
The teen revealed Friday he had been staying with a friend in Hartford because he couldn't bring himself to go back to that "bad personal situation" -- a situation he declined to elaborate on.
Going forward, he says he'll be staying in Waterbury. He says it feels better to be home with his mother and that he feels safe now.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you -- and thank God for him being home," said Arias.