7-year-old girl who disappeared in southwest Houston found safe with neighbor


by KHOU.com staff, Sherry Williams / KHOU 11 News


Posted on July 2, 2013 at 8:04 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 6:38 PM

Area girl was last seen

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HOUSTON – A 7-year-old girl who disappeared Monday night from an apartment complex in southwest Houston was found safe with her neighbor Tuesday, Houston police said.

“Where you been!?  I’ve been looking for you,” Binta Ratliff cried as she grabbed her daughter who had been missing for about 16 hours.

Meleiaha Ratliff was last seen around 9:15 p.m. Monday at her family’s apartment in the 10500 block of Beechnut. The last time anyone saw her, she was going outside to play.

Police said the child believed her mother was not at home when she tried to return, and by the 11 o’clock hour she became spooked when she saw a man coming after her.  Police said the man was actually part of the search for her.  A neighbor said Meleiaha knocked on her door at about 11:45 p.m.

“Yeah, she was with me,” the neighbor named Dion said.

When asked why she did not bring the girl home, the neighbor said she didn’t know the child had been reported missing.

“No, I just now woke up! We stayed up late,” she explained.         

There was anger directed toward the neighbor who had the child.

“Wake the baby up!  Bring her home! Bring her home,” one resident yelled.

The little girl’s mother said she will be making some changes.

“No more 9 o’clock curfews,” she said.

Police said Meleiaha did not appear to be harmed.

One neighbor said this case frightened her because recently a pedophile was targeting children in the complex.

“He had pictures of the kids,” Kesha Lee said. “He was taking pictures of the kids in the pool. He had naked pictures of the kids.”