Police: Missing teen or abductor may be in contact with Tri-City friends

Police believe a missing Kennewick teen or the 19-year-old man suspected of abducting her have tried to contact friends since an Amber Alert was issued last week.

Investigators followed up on a handful of tips over the weekend from across the West Coast, though none brought them any closer to finding Elizabeth Romero.

Police officials are hoping anyone who has heard from either Elizabeth or Edwardo Fabien Flores Rosales will contact them.

"The biggest thing is that we really, strongly believe somebody here in the Tri-Cities has had contact with one of them," said Sgt. Ken Lattin, Kennewick police spokesman. "Somebody knows something. We just want to make sure she is safe."

The 14-year-old has been missing since last Wednesday when she got into a green Ford Escape driven by Rosales, Lattin said. Police said they met through Facebook and Rosales was grooming Elizabeth for an abduction.

Police officials have told the Herald they believe Elizabeth could be in danger and Rosales doesn't have "good intentions."

Rosales, who is from Hood River, Ore., came to Kennewick on Thanksgiving and moved into a house on the teen's block, Lattin said. The couple disappeared a few days later. Text messages sent to Elizabeth's mother phone from an unidentified number a day after the abduction claimed the pair was headed for Mexico.

Police believe Rosales has access to multiple vehicles and may not be driving the Escape, Lattin said. The SUV belongs to Rosales' brother, who lives in Hood River. Surveillance footage showed the license plates were removed when Elizabeth was picked up at Phoenix High School in Kennewick.

Investigators were able to get access to Elizabeth's Facebook page over the weekend, Lattin said. Police did not release if information in her social media accounts has provided any leads.

Law enforcement officials are still investigating the case as an abduction, Lattin said. They are reviewing more surveillance video from the high school to see if Rosales had picked Elizabeth up any other times.

Elizabeth's family told police they did not approve of the teen's relationship with Rosales, Lattin said. Investigators don't believe that was a motive for Elizabeth to suddenly leave. She has never run away before.

Elizabeth and Rosales have family in Mexico, and it's possible they crossed the border, Lattin said. Local police notified the U.S Border Patrol and are working with other law enforcement agencies to follow tips.

Anyone with information about Elizabeth's or Rosales' whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Kennewick Police Department's nonemergency line at 509-628-0333.

w Tyler Richardson: 582-1556;; Twitter: @Ty_richardson