Mother pleads for daughter’s safe return

Caitlyn Frisina, 17, left town with soccer coach, sheriff’s office believes.

The mother of a 17-year-old Fort White girl who disappeared over the weekend is pleading for her daughter to come home, or at least let someone know she’s OK. 

Caitlyn Frisina was reported missing by her family Sunday. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office believes she ran off with a 27-year-old soccer coach from her school. 

Caitlyn’s mother, former County Commissioner Scarlet Frisina, said the family isn’t angry with her and hopes to hear from her soon. 

“We love her very much, and it doesn’t matter what has happened or where she is,” Frisina told the Lake City Reporter Monday afternoon. “All we’re concerned with is her safety.”

“We are looking forward to her getting in contact with us to let us know that she’s safe,” she added. 

Caitlyn plays on the Fort White High School girls soccer team and deputies believe she is traveling with Rian Rodriguez, head coach of the boys team. 

Caitlyn’s friends indicated the two might be in a romantic relationship, said CCSO spokesman Murray Smith.

Frisina said she was unaware of any such relationship between them. 

“As far as we know, he was just a friend,” she said. 

Caitlyn appears to have left her home voluntarily through a bedroom window, Smith said.

There was a single set of footprints leading away from the house.

It’s not clear whether she left Saturday night or Sunday morning, Smith said. 

Caitlyn fully erased her phone and left it behind.

She made a $200 withdrawal at an ATM in St. Mary’s, Georgia, the same day she was reported missing, according to the sheriff’s office. 

Rodriguez previously worked as an assistant coach under the teenager’s father, Ward Frisina. 

The elder Frisina, who still leads the girls team, resigned as the head coach of the boys team in July, leaving Rodriguez to take over. Rodriguez is not employed in any other capacity by the school district.

Neither Rodriguez nor his red 2001 Mercury Sable have been seen in several days, Smith said.

The state won’t likely pursue charges against Rodriguez, since Caitlyn turns 18 in June, Smith said. 

“At this point, we just need to locate them and make sure everyone is safe,” Smith said. 

Investigators could retrieve text records from the phone, but Smith said he doesn’t believe it’s necessary at this point. 

“We’ve got a pretty good picture of what happened and what went on,” Smith said. 

There’s not yet any evidence that a crime has taken place, Smith said. 

The school board will move to suspend Rodriguez pending the results of an investigation, Superintendent Lex Carswell said Monday. 

The assistant coach, Clayton McPeak, will take over for now, Carswell said. 

The girls and boys soccer teams play their next games against Lafayette High School tonight. 

District officials are operating under the assumption that Rodriguez and Caitlyn are romantically involved, Carswell said. 

Regardless of any sexual or romantic relationship, Rodriguez will be terminated if it’s proven he’d been traveling with her, Carswell said. 

“He’s no longer gonna be allowed to be part of the team,” Carswell said. “Educators are held to a higher standard.”

The news of Caitlyn’s disappearance had a huge impact on social media here, with a CCSO post shared more than 6,300 times as of Monday evening.

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