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Family worries about daughter; officials think teen ran away
Signs, such as this one on the front door of the Gainesville Bowling Center, have been posted in Hall and Lumpkin counties for Hannah Thompson. Thompson has been missing since May 18. - photo by Tom Reed
Lumpkin County authorities believe a 16-year-old teenager who disappeared nine days ago ran away from home.

But whether Hannah Thompson left her father's home willingly on May 18 makes no difference to her family members. They still are worried.

Lumpkin investigators suspect that Hannah Thompson left her father's home in Dahlonega and is staying with friends in Cumming. Yet searches of those friends' homes have turned up no sign of the teenager, said Darren Martin, the public information officer for the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office.

When found, Hannah Thompson faces charges of unruly juvenile, and anyone who helped her elude her parents could also face charges, according to authorities. Martin said Lumpkin County authorities are working with Forsyth County authorities to find her.

The uncertainty of Hannah Thompson's whereabouts is exhausting to family members who have heard no word of her in nine days. Family members say they do not understand why Hannah Thompson would leave home without notice and not contact the family. But even those closest to the teenager admit that she is hard to understand at times.

"She was real closed-mouth - nobody knew a lot about her," said Hannah Thompson's aunt, Linda Chamblee.

Since she disappeared last week, Hannah Thompson's family posted fliers in four counties in hopes of finding the teen, who has friends in Cleveland, Dahlonega, Oakwood, Gainesville, Cumming and Dawsonville.

Her father, Terry Thompson, took a week off work to search for his daughter. He said she took some clothes with her and deleted her MySpace and Facebook accounts before she left home last Monday without word.

If he could talk to his daughter now, Terry Thompson would say what just about any parent would say: "I'd tell her I want her back home and I love her."

The mother of the 16-year-old, Peggy Thompson, is tired and confused. Since her daughter disappeared last week, Peggy Thompson said what little sleep she's had has been haunted with nightmares.

"My worst fear right now is that she has met somebody off that computer and just took off," Peggy Thompson said.

The teenager, described as smart by her grandmother and aunt, stopped going to school and eventually dropped out in January. Hannah Thompson asked her grandmother, Ellen Smallwood, to take her to a GED preparation course, but the teen stopped going soon after starting the course, Smallwood said.

Smallwood, who said she regularly drove her granddaughter places and took her shopping, last saw Hannah Thompson on May 16. Nothing seemed out of place then, Smallwood said.

"She was busy doing girly stuff ... washing clothes and running in and out of her room doing things on the computer," Smallwood said. Two days later, Hannah Thompson was gone.

Hannah Thompson ran away from home about two years ago, but was back home in a matter of hours, her father said.

Authorities say the teen likely ran away from home because she did not agree with her father's rules. The differences between the father and daughter - spurred by her choice of boyfriend and friends, family members said - caused Terry Thompson to take away his daughter's cell phone earlier this month.

Peggy Thompson last spoke to her daughter on May 16 and said the teen never hinted that she was having problems with her father or was planning to leave.

"I really just don't know what to think," Peggy Thompson said.

She said she wishes more could be done to find her daughter and has asked authorities to issue an Amber Alert. The Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office will not do so because they do not believe Hannah Thompson is in danger, Martin said.

"It don't matter how she's gone - if she ran away or she's missing - I don't see why they can't do an Amber Alert. She's 16," Peggy Thompson said.

Although much of the evidence suggests her daughter left willingly, Peggy Thompson said she has a hard time believing it.

"What the police are thinking? I just really don't believe that," the mother said. "It's not in her nature just to leave and not tell anybody where she's at or where she's going."

But she does believe that Hannah Thompson's friends know where she is. The phone, which rang incessantly with calls for the teenager, stopped ringing on Monday, Peggy Thompson said.

"The whole time she's been gone, nobody's called for her," the mother said.