Just before 7:30 p.m. today, Parma Police Capt. Kevin Riley broke the news that Katarina Bitterman, 17, missing from her St. Augustine Drive home in Parma since last Saturday, had been found safe in Salem, Massachusetts.
She was found at approximately 7 p.m. tonight.
In a release, here is what the Parma Police Department has said as of 8 p.m.:
"The Parma Police Department confirms that 17 year-old Katarina Bitterman, who has been missing since March 4, 2017, has been successfully located. She was found unharmed at a residence in Salem, Massachusetts by FBI Special Agents from the Boston Field Office after an investigation by Parma Police detectives and Cleveland FBI Special Agents revealed that Bitterman was staying at the home. Cleveland FBI agents contacted Boston FBI agents who went to the home and were able to locate Bitterman at the residence.
FBI agents in Boston also arrested a 19 year-old male who was living in the home. Parma Police detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest and will be making arrangements to extradite him back to Ohio.
The Parma Police Department would like to thank the Cleveland Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its assistance in this investigation. We would also like to thank the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office and the number of citizens in the community who provided tips to the department.
The Bitterman family would also like to thank the public for their thoughts and support. At this time, the family is asking for privacy and does not wish to be contacted.
No other details are available at this time as this is still an ongoing investigation."
Earlier Friday, WKYC talked with the Parma community before Katarina was found..
It is getting to be wedding season at Amour Events & Design in Parma. Yet today, they were not planning for a party. Instead they were putting their talents to a different use.
“To raise awareness about Kat,” owner Cherie Meadows said. “We’re not forgetting about her.”
Saturday marks one week since 17-year-old Katarina or “Kat” Bitterman went missing from her home on Augustine Drive.
She had stayed behind to watch the family’s dogs while her parents took a trip. When they had stopped hearing from her, they reported her missing.
A neighbor claims to have seen her walking down the street around 2:30 p.m. She had left her phone at home.
“She’s a smart girl. And she’s gorgeous,” said Diane Kostal, a concerned parent. “We just want her to come home.”
This week, Parma police, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Deputies, and even the FBI became involved. They used a special search plane in the air and a K-9 unit on the ground.
They searched the Cleveland Metroparks behind the Bittermans' home. But so far, nothing has turned up.
Some neighbors say they have grown suspicious of registered sex offenders.
“It’s heartbreaking for the community not to know what happened,” Diane Kostal said. “Are our kids safe playing outside? Was she abducted?”
They had planned to hold a candlelight vigil Friday evening outside the Bittermans' home.
At the family’s request, though, they called it off and are now asking people to leave on their porch lights.
“Just to light her path home so that the families coming home at night know that they’re not alone,” Kostal said.
She added that a group of hockey parents from Normandy High School, which Bitterman attended, will be out raising awareness for the missing teen on Saturday afternoon.