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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2005

Missing American exchange student found safe in Brazil


BRASILIA, Brazil A 17-year-old Oregon exchange student missing since last weekend was found safe today in northeastern Brazil, police said.

Mykensie Martin was taken to a police station in the coastal city of Salvador, about 700 miles northeast of Brasilia, said Lt. Alexandre Silva of the federal police in Bahia state.

She was physically unharmed but appeared stressed, said Rodrigo Koble, an Interpol agent at the police station.

In an interview with Brazil s Globo TV, Martin said she arrived in Salvador on Tuesday. Someone tried to rob her shortly after she arrived, but she said she was helped by a waiter, Globo reported. It said she had already contacted her host family.

Martin s father was scheduled to fly to Brazil as early as today, U.S. Embassy spokesman John Wilcock said.

Martin, a senior at Summit High School in Bend, Ore., was last seen Sunday hitchhiking toward Brasilia, Brazil s capital, which lies in the interior of Latin America s largest country.

The report of her discovery came after the embassy distributed thousands of fliers around Brasilia and in Unai, the small city 80 miles from the capital where she was spotted trying to hitch a ride.

Martin left her host city of Carmo do Paranaiba in the central state of Minas Gerais early Sunday to travel 38 miles by bus to Patos de Minas, where she regularly attended a Mormon church for Sunday services.

Investigators said that instead of returning, she changed her bus ticket to travel 150 miles to Unai, said Kreg Roth of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program in Bend.

Police said a bus fee collector told them Martin rode the bus to Unai.

Martin said she was going to Brasilia for an event sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and did not have enough money for a bus ticket, said Unai police detective Celso Avila Prado.

A youth camp for Mormon teens ages 12 through 18 is scheduled to take place this weekend outside Brasilia, but camp organizer Daniele da Silva Santos told the Correio Braziliense newspaper that Martin s name was not on the list of participants.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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