Missing Port St. Lucie girl found by Guardian Angels; here's who they are and what they do

PORT ST. LUCIE — When a 15-year-old girl went missing early Monday, a local chapter of a national crime-prevention group, the Guardian Angels, stepped in to help.

Saige Stiles, who attends Treasure Coast High School, was reported missing when she didn't show up to school Monday. Stiles was on the phone with a friend when she said she was being followed, police said.

Her phone and backpack were found that morning, abandoned on the sidewalk.

She was found unharmed about 5:15 p.m. Monday in the 100 block of Southwest Paar Drive by Michael Lincoln-McCreight, a member of Florida’s Treasure Coast Guardian Angels Chapter, according to Sgt. John Dellacroce, police spokesperson.

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The chapter is part of a volunteer organization that has existed for more than 40 years and has a presence in cities throughout the country.

Who are they, and what's their purpose?

Ned Childress of the Guardian Angels leads a chant of 'Break the silence, stop the violence' while walking down Avenue M in Fort Pierce on Sept. 21, 2013. "We decided to form and organize this march to see if it will help curb some of the killing and shootings here in St. Lucie County,"  said Childress, who lead a group of several hundreds supporters on the three-mile march. "We decided on this march because we believe there is strength in numbers and this will help curb some of the shooting."

Who are the Guardian Angels?

The Guardian Angels is a nonprofit crime-prevention group founded in 1979 in New York City by Curtis Sliwa.

It is volunteer-based and made up of unarmed civilian patrols that aim to prevent and respond to violent crimes in their communities.

It started with Sliwa and 12 volunteers, who called themselves the "Maginificent 13," and conducted safety patrols on the New York City subway in response to a rising wave of crime.

Now, the group has chapters in 130 cities and 13 countries, according to its website. Along with the Treasure Coast chapter, Florida has seven others, including in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

History on the Treasure Coast

Lincoln-McCreight isn't the first Guardian Angel volunteer to aid the Treasure Coast community.

The local chapter was established around 2004 and has sometimes patrolled Fort Pierce to try to deter shootings.

Following a shooting in 2010 in which three people were killed and a pregnant woman was hospitalized, the Guardian Angels responded by patrolling Fort Pierce for weeks in an attempt to prevent further violence.

Steve "Crusader" Horton (right), a member of the Treasure Coast Guardian Angels, speaks with fellow members Bryan "Scorpion" Russe (left), Ned "Preacher" Childress and Mark "Lifeguard" Peterson while patrolling the area near the basketball courts on March 29, 2012, at Sportsman's Park in Port St. Lucie. "We will saturate the area until the dark cloud dissipates," said Horton. "We will maintain after that." The area was the site of a shooting in March that left one man dead.

The group also raised awareness and conducted patrols in response to a rise in gun violence in late 2015, and it was joined by members from other Florida chapters.

The Treasure Coast chapter has 12 volunteers, said Ned Childress Sr., 60, who heads the group. It's done charity, church and school events, and patrolled Gifford as recently as March.

Port St. Lucie Police Sgt. John Dellacroce discusses the search for missing 15-year-old Saige Stiles at SW Tulip Boulevard on Monday April 11, 2022.
Port St. Lucie Police Sgt. John Dellacroce discusses the search for missing 15-year-old Saige Stiles at SW Tulip Boulevard on Monday April 11, 2022.

Finding Saige Stiles

Police started searching for Stiles just before 7 a.m. Monday on Southwest Tulip Boulevard between Belmont Circle and Darwin Boulevard.

Saige's friend, whom she was on the phone with during her walk to school, called 911 after becoming concerned for her safety, according to police.

A camera system in the 100 block of Southwest Fernleaf Trail showed Saige at 7:30 a.m. walking behind houses. She didn't appear to be in any danger or distress, police said.

Just after 5 p.m. Monday, Lincoln-McCreight found her.

Police said Saige was in good health, and they gave McCreight a "big thanks" for finding her.

Thomas Weber is a Digital Now Reporter at TCPalm. You can reach him at thomas.weber@tcpalm.com or 813-545-9113. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Who are the Guardian Angels who found a missing Port St. Lucie teen?