BREAKING: Missing 8-year-old girl has been found safe

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Leilani Miller, 8 (Source: Mesa Police Dept.) Leilani Miller, 8 (Source: Mesa Police Dept.)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

An 8-year-old missing Mesa girl has been found safe and sound.

Mesa Police Dept. spokeswoman Diana Williams said 8-year-old Leilani Miller disappeared Friday.

She was last seen near Hawthorne Elementary School. That's near the northeast corner of Stapley Drive and University Drive in the 600 block of North Hunt Drive in Mesa.

But Saturday morning, after an extensive search, our crews said a Mesa detective gave a thumbs up and said, "We got her!"

Mesa police confirmed the good news a few moments later.

She was found walking near the school where she first disappeared.

 At approximately 7:17 AM, detectives were rechecking the locations where Leilani was last seen the previous day. Two detectives rounded a corner in the neighborhood only blocks from Hawthorne Elementary School, and they saw Leilani walking on the sidewalk. 

"We went back out to start retracing those steps to start from the beginning, to start over, and as some of our detectives actually went back to driving to the specific area, they actually saw Leilani walking down the street by herself, slightly disheveled, but in good condition," said Mesa police Det. Steve Berry.

Mesa police released this statement about her disappearance:

"Leilani was given a ride to The Mesa Police Family Advocacy Center where she was interviewed. During this interview Leilani revealed she and another female classmate had planned to take off after school and  "hang out."  The friend decided not to follow through and Leilani proceeded on her own.  She walked to a location in the area of the school where she stayed until this morning, shortly before she was found."

The Mesa Police Department also thanked all those involved in the search effort:

Anytime a child goes missing, it is of the highest priority for the Mesa Police Department to find them quickly and safely.  We could not have worked a scene this large without the response and assistance of AZ-CART (Arizona Child Abduction Response Team).  CART very quickly brings together a great deal of resources to cover every base for locating missing or abducted children.  In this case, approximately 125 law enforcement staff from agencies around the valley responded or were diligently working to finding Leilani.  That quick response and willingness help is a key element in this successful resolution.

We also want to thank the community for their support and assistance.  Through word of mouth, social media and any means possible, the word quickly spread about Leilani and the community rallied around law enforcement with their support.  

Had the detectives not found her, we are confident everyone in the neighborhood would have been instrumental in Leilani being found.

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