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Missing girl, 6, is back at home

A 6-year-old Bradenton girl who authorities say was taken over the weekend by her longtime baby sitter was returned home Tuesday night.

Shaquanette "Nette" Johnson was reunited with her mother, Elizabeth Hope, 25, at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at about 8 p.m., detectives said.

The girl, who needs daily medication for her asthma, had been missing since Saturday, when baby sitter Necole Stephens, 18, took her to a hair salon, sheriff's officials said. The two never returned.

Authorities late Tuesday still were piecing together what happened.

Hope said Stephens dropped the girl off at a friend's house in Sarasota and took off because she heard authorities were looking for her Tuesday.

Stephens faces kidnapping charges, said spokesman Dave Bristow.

She remained at large Tuesday night.

Nette was returned home after a friend heard the news of the little girl's disappearance. Charles Manning, an old friend of Hope's, stopped by a Sarasota home and found the child inside, sheriff's officials said. Detectives said they did not know exactly how Manning found the girl or details surrounding her recovery.

"The only thing I do know is that the baby sitter was there when he found the child," said Detective Dan Curry, one of the investigators on the case.

Manning brought the child to Bradenton and dropped her off at his niece's house because he had to go to work, Curry said. Detectives, phoned by the niece, then picked her up and took her to her mother.

Curry said he plans to interview Manning and the child today.

Though the child had been missing since Sunday, the investigation began Tuesday morning, after Hope reported her daughter missing about 9:30 a.m., said Bristow, the sheriff's spokesman.

Hope said she waited a few days to get authorities involved because she was looking for the pair on her own.

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