Madison Bell: 18-year-old who disappeared shares her story on social media

In a live video on the social media app, Instagram, 18-year-old Madison Bell answered questions from her followers about her disappearance.

“I haven’t talked to my mom,” Bell said. “I kind of am afraid if they come find me but they can’t do anything because I am 18 – so, it was my choice to leave.”

Bell left her home in Greenfield, Ohio on May 17. She told her mother she was going tanning, but her car was later found abandoned in a church parking lot.

Hundreds of community members and search teams came together to scour the area and find Bell. Days later, she was located by officers in another state with a man deputies considered a person of interest.

“I did not leave a note at all,” Bell said in her video. “When I left, I left with just an outfit, $50 in my pocket, my social security, my ID – that was it.”

Bell said she left to start a new life and get away from her live-in boyfriend and family.

“I did not want that relationship at all, it was forced, and I remember telling my mom, ‘Hey when I am 18, I am not going to date him anymore.’”

Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera told Newscenter 7’s Katy Andersen that Madison’s case is still open. This week, his deputies are combing through phone records.

“We’re not looking to probably find anything, but we are just trying to be thorough and finish up the case,” Barrera said.

Barrera said he believes the case will end with no arrests but will cost his department around $3,000 - $4,000 in taxpayer money. “Basically, overtime and manhours.”

Madison said in her Instagram Live video that she is now living with the man she met five year ago online. “I love Zack,” Bell said. “He is amazing. He is so sweet, I have never felt love like this before.”

Sheriff Barrera said his department is working on closing Bell’s case sometime this week.

Katy Andersen

Katy Andersen

I joined WHIO's team in September 2019. You can catch me on News Center 7 when I anchor Saturdays at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and Noon, Sundays at 6 and 11 p.m., and while I am reporting during the week.