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Guest Opinion: Hannah Thomas-Garner's father thanks the Ashland community

This letter is in regard to my daughter, Hannah "Moose" Thomas-Garner. I know there are some conflicting feelings about her and the time since Nov. 29. There was a lot of activity due to her choices in the past, and now that she has returned home and is safe I would like to speak on the comments that I am reading and hearing.

I first would like to thank the Daily Tidings for putting the news out there for all to read. I would also like to thank the radio station KSKQ and the television news stations KOBI, KDVR and KTVL for the interviews. I would like to thank the community for assisting in all of the efforts to bring Hannah home. I would like to thank the students and staff at Ashland High School for putting together the assembly on the field to send a message to Hannah to contact her family.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank Ashland Police Department. Back in December when I visited Deputy Chief Hensman and he told me the evidence led them to believe that Hannah had ran away, I told him that I disagreed. After about a 15-minute conversation, we agreed to disagree and I told him this is the one case that I hope I am wrong.

On the evening of March 7, when I called Detective LeCoure to inform him that Hannah had contacted me and I picked her up, I told him that I have never been so happy to be proven wrong. I then apologized for doubting them because they were correct. And we agreed that as a father of a missing teen I was doing all that I could do to try to get my child home safely.

There have been some comments about the interview Hannah and I gave from the airport. Some were happy comments and some were not.

I want to thank all of the people that have given supportive comments and happy thoughts about the interview, as we, both Hannah and I, were very happy. For those that disagreed with our happiness I apologize. I sincerely hope that you never have to go through the grueling time, the emotional roller coaster, the deep dark depression of not knowing if you would ever see your child again that we went through. Those fears are what drove me to do all that I could, even if it meant screaming at the top of my lungs at the Ashland police station or in the Ashland Plaza.

Yes, in my opinion at that time of worry I did doubt the efforts of APD. I called them every day. I spoke to one of the four detectives that were assigned to the case each time I called. I left countless messages for them. They even gave me their cellphone numbers just in case I wanted to complain, yell, cry, or just talk. They were very supportive. I told them about everything I was doing; they told me everything they could tell me that they were doing.

There were times that I would be on the phone with one of the detectives and we would both ask each other, "What do we do now?" There were times when we had nothing to go on but as a fatherI could not just stop. I had to keep trying something.

Luckily this missing person / runaway case has a good ending. The child that was homeless due to choices made decided to reach out and call family. I only wish that they all could end this way. Would the outcome have turned out the same had things happened differently? I really don't know. I do know that as a father I will fight for my kids no matter what.

In closing I again would like to thank the entire community of Ashland Oregon for coming together and fighting with for my child; not many places would have done that. I would also like to go on record and say to Deputy Chief Hensman: I was wrong, Hannah was not injured and she did return home safe. I apologize for any ill feelings I have caused you or your department.

Jeff Garner, the father of Hannah Thomas-Garner, lives in Kilgore, Texas.