Last week, family, friends, and community members congregated at Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in Essex to host a prayer vigil for Brooklynn Hays, a 16-year-old Eastern Technical High School student who has been missing since Sept. 30.

Hays was last seen at 8:30 p.m. that Sunday evening leaving her home on the 1500 block of Galena Rd. following an argument with her parents. She left behind her cell phone, money, and asthma medication. Other than reports that Hays was spotted in Astoria, New York two weeks ago, there isn’t any more information about her whereabouts. It is unknown how she is traveling or if she is being accompanied by anybody.

During the vigil, Connie Hays Matsumoto, Brooklynn’s aunt, spoke on behalf of the family.

She thanked the crowd for coming out to “surround Brooklynn with protective light and love.”

She said the family has encountered a tremendous outpouring of support from many organizations such as the Baltimore County Police Department, the Guardian Angels, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children along with community members who have spread the word.

Pastor Meheret Caruthers of Hope Lutheran Church said Brooklynn is a “beautiful soul” that she got to spend time with at youth gatherings and other activities at the church throughout the years.

“I’m sure you all have stories about Brooklynn to share. She was always smiling.”

Those who missed Brooklynn held lit candles to light her path home.

The vigil concluded with the crowded room singing Hays’ favorite song, “How Great Is Our God”

Hays is a Caucasian female with brown eyes and brown hair, although there have been reports that she has dyed her hair a red or burgundy color. She is approximately 5’3” and 111 pounds. She was last seen in a white shirt, dark sweatpants and flip-flops. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Brooklynn’s family discovered she was talking to adult men online before her disappearance and now they fear she may be the victim of internet luring.

A Facebook page called “Bring Brooklynn Home” was created to share information, pass around fliers, and to provide support to the Hays family. A fundraising event for the family is being held at Pizza John’s in Essex on the evening of Thursday, October 18.

Anybody with information on Brooklynn is asked to call 911 immediately or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

Information is up-to-date as of press time on Tuesday, October 16. The Avenue News will update this story as it develops online at www.avenuenews.com.

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