Missing woman found in soup kitchen, reunited with family

24-year-old woman reported missing Tuesday morning

Published On: Jan 01 2013 11:21:01 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 01 2013 11:52:41 PM EST
DELAND, Fla. -

Eddie Mercer was reunited with his daughter Caressa Tuesday night after she disappeared from their Deland home in the morning.

It's a feeling the father said words cannot describe.

"A million pounds just got off my chest," he said.

Volusia County Sheriff's deputies, family, and friends searched all day for the 24-year-old, who is mentally disabled.

Mercer said he wanted to know if anyone had hurt his daughter.

"That's the first thing I asked -- 'Did anybody bother (you)?' She said nobody touched her," said Mercer.

Caressa was found two miles away from her home, in a soup kitchen at the First United Methodist Church on Howry Avenue. A volunteer saw her picture on the news and called deputies.

Miguel Vasquez, a volunteer at the soup kitchen, said he took Caressa in after she told him she was homeless and had no where to go.

"She looked like she hadn't slept for days, and I feel sorry for her. I told her to come in," he said.

Caressa ate, bathed, and changed clothes. She sat at a dining table until she was taken home to her father just after 6 p.m.

"She was scared because she was afraid that I was gonna be mad at her, and there is no way I was gonna be mad at that girl," said Mercer.