ESCONDIDO — An investigation continues into the disappearance of a North County teen who has not contacted her parents since running away from home more than a month ago.
Seraphine Bustillos, a 15-year-old who goes by “Sera,” apparently left her family’s Elfin Forest house through a bedroom window early July 22, taking a pet ball python with her but leaving behind her phone and other electronics. Her parents say she may have left with someone she met online because a bedroom window screen was cut and because their remote home is not within easy walking distance to public transportation.
“She could have either run away on her own or she could have been lured away by somebody,” said mother Eveline Bustillos, a Rancho Santa Fe real estate agent. “We don’t know because she didn’t leave a note.”
Detectives say Sera Bustillos has left San Diego County and that they are working with local police elsewhere in California to bring her back.
The case is complicated because Sera Bustillos is “actively trying to avoid us and the family. She’s trying to stay runaway,” sheriff’s spokesman Ryan Keim said.
“It’s been worked as if she’s at risk just because she’s 15 and she’s that far away from home,” Keim said. “We’re doing everything possible to try and find her. Just because she’s a voluntary runaway does not mean we don’t take it seriously.”
The parents, Eveline and attorney Luis Michael Bustillos, are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to their daughter’s safe return. A GoFundMe page to raise money for the search has collected pledges of more than $10,000 toward a $25,000 goal as of Aug. 23.
“I don’t think any of us parents really know what their kids are doing every day online,” Eveline Bustillos said. “It’s really scary how we think we think are on top of it and we really aren’t.”
Sera Bustillos has dark blond hair dyed black when she left home, her mother said; her hair has also been dyed red in the past. She is 5 feet 1 inch tall and about 115 pounds. She has pierced ears and scarring on her arms and legs. Her parents think she could be seen on weekends in a pet store buying feeder mice for her pet snake, an 18-inch ball python.
Anyone with information about Sera Bustillos is asked to call the sheriff’s department at (858) 565-5200 or an anonymous tip line established by the parents at (760) 348-8808.