Alexis Waller was gone. Her father was beside himself with worry. His 11-year-old daughter was missing from their Bryant, Arkansas home and he feared something horrible had happened.
“You always just think the worst,” said Brent Waller. "I just thought some guy had come and scooped her up."
But Alexis Waller turned out to be totally fine, although a bit on the worried side herself. Once her family found out what had happened, it made for an adventure story that the whole town wound up talking about.
Alexis Waller had piled on some makeup, snuck out of her family’s home in Bryant in the middle of the night, and hitchhiked with a stranger 20 miles to nearby Little Rock. Once there, she stopped at a gas station where she called a cab. Alexis had bigger travel plans than a quick run to Little Rock.
The cab arrived and the driver asked where she wanted to go. He later said that, with all the makeup she had on, she looked about 17 years old. Alexis told him she wanted to go to Jacksonville, Florida. She had met a 16-year-old boy from Jacksonville while on vacation two years before. They had kept in touch, and that’s where she was headed.
Since this was almost 900 miles away, the cabbie asked if she had money to pay that kind of fare. Alexis had prepped with more than just makeup before striking out that night. She had also swiped $10,000 from her granny’s sock drawer. Sure, she could pay.
“He didn’t really ask anything, he just asked me where I needed to go,” Alexis said later. I said I need to go to Jacksonville, Florida. He's like, 'do you have money' and I'm like, 'yes.'"
Once her father and mother noticed her missing, they called the police. Police checked phone records, tracked down the cab company Alexis had called, and found out who she was riding with. When they called the cabbie, he told them they were outside of Atlanta, Georgia. They had made it nine hours away before police tracked them down.
Alexis’ parents hit the road to retrieve her.
"I'm actually glad I got found. I knew I made a mistake after a while and I didn’t have a phone," said Alexis.
The cabbie didn’t get into any trouble. He seems to have honestly thought that Alexis was older, since she was made up quite a bit. As for the boy in Jacksonville, he says he had no idea she was headed his way.
On the way home from picking up Alexis in Atlanta, Brent Waller snapped this picture of his exhausted daughter napping in the back of his SUV.
"You have the rest of your life to punish her. You just want to hug her and just love her because you got her back and that’s what’s important,” Brent Waller said. But he also took away her makeup. Later he posted this to Facebook.