Missing Horseshoe Bay girl found in Virginia

Sonja Murdock and the missing child, Margo Murdock
Sonja Murdock and the missing child, Margo Murdock

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The girl taken from her home in Horseshoe Bay in August 2015, has been found safe in Charlottesville, Virginia.

8-year-old Margo Murdock was reported missing since Aug. 18 by her grandmother, Sandy Hayes, who shares joint custody.

“Until she’s back it doesn’t seem real,” said Margo’s grandmother.

Police just confirmed that Margo had been living with her mother, 28-year-old Sonja Murdock, who had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. The warrant was for a probation revocation connected to a 2012 case when Sonja Murdock was charged with the aggravated robbery of Marble Falls Chili’s. She served time in jail for that crime.

Police found Sonja in Charlottesville around 6:00 p.m. Jan. 7. They say she was using fake names to keep her and her daughter hidden. Horseshoe Bay investigators assisted the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office by providing Sonja’s whereabouts at a Charlottesville address. After Sonja was taken into custody she told police Margo was staying with a friend.

Hayes said she was able to briefly speak to Margo by phone and identified her picture from a Virginia police officer.  At the time the mother and daughter disappeared, Hayes never thought Sonja would try to run off with Margo.

“I had no reason to believe she would take her. My daughter had no job, no money, no car,” said Hayes who thinks Sonja had friends aiding her getaway. “My daughter has had a lot of support herself.”

During the time she was gone, Margo’s classmates at Colt Elementary School made bracelets with the words “Bring Margo Home” on them. Margo’s room in Hayes’ home still sits with all the decorations the 8-year-old picked out herself.

“Circumstances like this sometimes pull families together and sometimes tears them apart. It did both to ours,” said Hayes.

Hayes, who is the maternal grandmother, and the paternal grandmother shared custody of Margo. Horseshoe Bay Police said the most updated custody document they had before them showed Sonja, the biological father, and both grandmothers had joint custody and it led to a delay in getting Margo declared a missing child. Because Sonja is the biological mother, the case did not fit the criteria for an Amber Alert. The paternal grandmother is on her way to Virginia to help plan Sonja’s return to Texas, according to Hayes. Though she is relieved Margo has been found, Hayes knows returning to her old life may be challenging for Margo.

“I think we have a long road ahead of us. We have to get back in the routine of things and also have to deal with the loss of a mother now.”

Sonja Murdock mug shot
Sonja Murdock mug shot

Margo is now with the Albemarle County Virginia Department of Social Services. Horseshoe Bay Police are working with Virginia officials to return Margo to Texas. Sonja is currently in custody at the Albemarle County Jail. The warrant was issued from the District Court in Burnet, Texas.

According to the Horseshoe Bay Chief of Police, Rocky Wardlow, they are arranging the extradition of Sonja to Burnet County.

On KXAN News at 6 p.m., hear from the grandmother on why she’s ready for her granddaughter to come home.

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