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Nationwide, multiagency effort locates missing Ozark Co. family



The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office, with the help of local, state and federal agencies nationwide, has located a family reported missing since May.

The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office said Justin, 32, Jennifer, 30, and 5-month-old Barakah were located out of state and are “safe and healthy.”

On Thursday, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office told the West Plains Daily Quill he could not release the location where the family was found.

“We know they have been located, and they've been safe,” he told the Quill. “That is all we know right now.”

For the last four weeks, deputies and dispatchers with the sheriff’s office have worked day and night, including weekends, to help locate the Ruggles family after a missing persons report for the family was filed with the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office on May 5. 

“We received tips 24 hours a day from when the report was filed,” the spokesman said. “There is no telling the hours officers worked.”

Investigators who spoke with family and friends during the search initially tracked the Ruggles family to southern Florida but could find no activity related to the family since April 12. 

The sheriff’s office said the case is still under investigation and it could not release additional information on what led to the family going missing.

Ozark County deputies were assisted in the investigation by law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The spokesman told the Quill the sheriff’s office received assistance from law enforcement agencies in Boston, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oregon, as well assistance from the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service.

The West Plains Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Texas County Sheriff’s Office and Wright County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the investigation. 

The Ozark County Sheriff’s Office also thanked members of the public who called and sent in messages with tips, sightings and information to help find the family. 

"The old saying goes, ‘it takes a village,’ and believe us when we say, it truly does,” said the spokesman for the sheriff’s office. 


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