Family of missing Tampa teen beg for daughter’s safe return during vigil

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For any parent, it is a feeling that connects them, a question that in this day and age, is most likely asked in the deepest of hearts – what if my child went missing? What if I couldn’t find my child?

For the family of Hailey Acierno, those aching questions hit home – hard. Their 17-year-old daughter vanished a week ago in New Tampa.

The teenager’s parents are heartsick with worry and grief. They explained to News Channel 8 that their daughter has battled mental illness her entire life, specifically bipolar disorder.

She has been without her medication for days on end. They are fearing the worst.

“When she is not on her medicine, she can barely form a sentence. However, I fully believe God is listening, and I fully believe that if we keep praying, she is going to come home,” said Lisa Acierno.

Tuesday afternoon, those who love Hailey the most prayed for her safe return.

Dozens gathered at St. Mark’s Catholic Church in New Tampa to light candles and offer support to this heartbroken family. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. People lined up to hug the teenager’s parents, wiping away their own tears.

One close family friend cried as she told us, “I just want to take away Lisa’s pain. She such a good mom, I just want to take away her pain and carry some of the burden.”

Every parent at the prayer service, including Hailey’s own father, spoke directly to her.

“We love you, we just want you to be okay and come home. So, please if you can hear this whatsoever, please know that we would welcome you home with open arms. We just really love you, so please come home,” her father said with concern on his face and fear in his eyes. “We love you.”

Right now, there is a $25,000 reward being offered by the Yerrid Law Firm for any information that helps to return Hailey home safely.

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