BRYANT, Ark. -- Anything could have happened, but an 11-year-old Arkansas girl is safe after taking a 500-mile taxi ride on her way to Jacksonville.
Police in her home state said the 11-year-old girl ran away from home early one morning. She rode with a stranger to Little Rock before hailing a taxi cab to take her all the way to Jacksonville.
Alexis Waller had stolen $10,000 cash from her grandmother's sock drawer. She told police she wanted to go meet a 16-year old boy she met on vacation in Jacksonville two years ago and had kept in touch with online.
The cab driver picked her up at 3:30 a.m.
"He didn't really ask anything, he just asked where I needed to go," said Waller. "I said, 'I need to go to Jacksonville, Florida,' he's like, 'Do you have money?' and I'm like, 'Yes."
She gave him $1,300 with a promise for the rest of it when they got to Jacksonville.
"I just thought some guy had come and scooped her up," said her father Brent.
The Wallers reported her missing later that morning. The Bryant police got her cell phone records and traced her call to the boy in Jacksonville, who knew nothing of her whereabouts or her plans. They then traced her calls to the cab company, and located the cab and the girl outside of Atlanta.
"I knew I made a mistake after a while, and didn't have a phone, " said the young girl.
Her parents drove nine hours to pick her up, angry but also relieved.
"You just want to hug her and just love her because you got her back and that's what is important," said her father.
Jacksonville clinical psychologist Dr. Justin D'Arienzo says this shocking story is a warning to parents to talk to their children, watch their behavior and watch what they're up to online.
"Now the back alley is in our living room and that is what we really have got to watch out for," he said. "The internet is absolutely dangerous, and it reminds me of how dangerous it actually is. If your kids have access to the internet they need to be monitored. Watch your children after they get on the internet to see if they are excited or sad. Watch to see if it is the very first thing they go to when they get home, they could be waiting for a response from someone."
D'Arienzo says this girl is very fortunate nothing bad happened.
As for the cab driver, the cab company said the girl wore heavy makeup and appeared to be 17 or 18 and he would not be disciplined.
Managers at Checker Cab of Jacksonville told First Coast News they were also shocked, saying they don't transport unsupervised, but it could happen because they don't check ID's and people can lie about their age. They also say a driver would have to check in with the office before going on such a long trip.
Police in Bryant say they are glad they were able to save this girl from unknown dangers that were lying ahead.