Politics

Missing Indiana Woman Lateche Norris Found Safe in California


  • Lateche Norris, 20, was found safely in California after being missing for a month.
  • Norris’ mother has made physical contact with both Norris and her boyfriend, Joey Smith, she shared on Facebook.
  • Previously, Norris was last heard from on November 5 when she called her mother from an unknown number. 

A missing Indiana woman has been found safe along with her boyfriend in California, her family says. 

Lateche Norris, 20, was found safe after she was missing for a month, her father, Walter Omega Cullum, confirmed to Insider. 

A statement by A Voice for the Voiceless, an organization that advocates for missing persons, said Norris’ mother, Cheryl Walker, has located Lateche as well as her boyfriend, Joseph Smith.

“Lateche Norris and Joey Smith have been located and are SAFE. Cheryl, Lateche’s mom has made physical contact with the two of them here in California. Thank you for everyone’s concern and assistance in finding Teche,” reads the statement, which was shared by Walker. “Because of you, a mother has been reunited with her mini-me.”

The San Diego Police Department is waiting for “confirmed information” before they release a statement about Norris being located, Lt. Adam Sharki told Insider. 

“I do want to state one thing in the mean time while we take a moment to process,” Walker said on Facebook. “I feel it’s imperative to state that Joey hasn’t hurt her and while we do ask everyone respect our privacy it was necessary to immediately confirm this since he’s being compared to Brian Laundrie.” 

Norris’s disappearance has gained national attention, including from Joe Petito, whose 23-year-old daughter Gabby Petito was found dead following a road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie earlier this year, Insider’s Mia Jankowicz reported.  

Norris flew to San Diego see Smith on November 1, and she made a phone call to her mother on November 5 but was not heard from for weeks after, her family previously said. 

In the phone call, which was made from an unknown number, Norris told her mother that she and Smith had fought “for hours” the night before. Norris had promised to call back but never did, according to a November 27 Facebook post by Walker

Walker called her daughter’s boyfriend “troubled,” adding on Facebook that he struggles with addiction and had previously kept Norris from contacting her family. 

“He can’t just let her breathe! This is the guy who keeps breaking her phones! This is the guy who was making her commit to ‘phone free weekends’ over the summer in Santa Cruz,” Walker said. 

The family recently said they were sent a ransom note asking for $7,000, Insider’s Rebecca Cohen reported. They paid the ransom, although there were concerns about its legitimacy. 

On Thursday, the San Diego Police Department released surveillance footage of Norris and Smith prior to their disappearance. While they deemed Norris “at risk,” they said at the time they had no evidence that she was the victim of a crime.

Rebecca Cohen contributed to this report. 



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