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Kim Mays' flight is called normal teenage conflict

Police and youth shelter officials said Wednesday that 15-year-old Kim Mays is suffering from normal family tensions, not abuse at home.

A police investigation that was opened after Kim ran away from home has found no evidence of abuse, a Sarasota County sheriff's spokesman said Wednesday. The director of the Sarasota shelter where Kim is staying said the young woman's turmoil is understandable.

"Kimberly Mays, age 15, has voluntarily entered the YMCA Youth Shelter with the signed permission of (her father) Robert W. Mays," executive director Dr. Jack Greer said in a statement. "Kimberly Mays is experiencing adolescent difficulties that are not uncommon for youth today. There are absolutely no allegations of abuse of any kind."

Robert Mays declined to comment Wednesday. The Mays family's legal assistant said she hopes the publicity surrounding Kim's recent troubles will quickly die, so that she and her family can get on with their lives.

"Kim's dealing with her special needs, and Bob's helping her do that," said Judith Lee. "Let's give her some privacy."

Kim and another girl were switched at birth at a rural Florida hospital in 1978. The swap came to light a decade later, after the child raised by Ernest and Regina Twigg died of heart trouble. The Twiggs then began a five-year fight to win visitation rights with Kim Mays.

In August, a judge granted Kim's wish to remain with the only parents she knows: Robert and Darlena Mays. While the court fight was over, the pressures inside Kim remained, combining with the normal stress of adolescence to spark problems at home, Lee said.

After leaving home recently, Kim agreed with her family that she should stay at the YMCA shelter, which works to reunite troubled teens and their families.

The Twiggs' lawyer wants to know why.

"We don't know what's going on," John Blakely said Wednesday from his law offices in Clearwater. Blakely said he planned to send a letter to Mays' attorney to find out.

"What we want are the facts, and we want them from Kim or the guidance counselors at the shelter where she has taken refuge," Blakely said.

Friday afternoon, a Sarasota County sheriff's detective began investigating Kim's case. That investigation ended Monday with the conclusion that Kim had not been abused, said spokesman Lt. William Stookey. Although state law bars police from releasing details of such investigations, Stookey said it was a minor incident.

"It's more a familial spat," he said. "These things will happen with teenagers."

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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