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Missing Ohio Girl Found with Mom and Sex Offender

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CNN: A tip from an isolated communal farm in rural San Diego County, California, may have led police to solve the well-publicized case of a missing 4-year-old Ohio girl.

Authorities stormed the ranch in a dramatic Tuesday afternoon raid to find young Haylee Donathan; her mother, Candace Watson; and Robbie Potter, Watson's boyfriend and a registered sex offender who had escaped from a half-way house.

Haylee had been missing for 27 days, and the search for her had been spotlighted on national television current affairs shows.

In a news conference Tuesday, police did not say what lead them to the remote Morning Star Ranch to rescue Haylee.

Despite exhaustive media coverage and hundreds of law enforcement agencies on the case, Haylee and the two adults had spent more than a week on the ranch without raising suspicions, said Kevin Carlin, a member of the ranch in the neighborhood of Valley Center.

Ranch members became suspicious when a former guest saw billboards urging help in finding Haylee and the two adults while traveling in Las Vegas, Nevada, Carlin said during a phone interview.

The ranch contacted police, who coordinated the secret rescue mission pulled off Tuesday.

"We cooperated fully," he said. In an Ohio news conference, Peter Elliott, United States marshal for the northern district of Ohio, said of the many tips that came in, one in particular helped break the case. But he did not elaborate.

Before ranch members became suspicious, Haylee, her mother and Potter seemed like a happy family, Carlin said.

"We thought they were a couple," Carlin said. "We thought she was their child. We treated them as guests. They helped us and we provided for their basic needs," said Carlin, explaining that no one at the ranch knew Watson and Potter were wanted.

They told their hosts they were married, he said.

"They seemed nice enough," Carlin said, adding that it is not in the group members' nature to be suspicious of others, so they take people at their word and do not grill new members about their lives or background.

"We pray to be delivered from evil every day, and we obviously were. We're just so thankful."

Watson and Potter kept a low profile, doing their chores in the kitchen and on the farm, Carlin said. He described Haylee as a sweet little girl who played well with the other children on the ranch, a 66-acre plot in rural San Diego County.

According to Carlin, the 6-year-old community is part of a worldwide messianic Christian organization known as The Twelve Tribes.

Just before the raid, Carlin said the other families were moved to safety but went about their own business, even going for a swim.

"It was pretty tense because there were armed men on our property and helicopters overhead," he said. '"The couple didn't resist arrest, and it went smoothly."

A few families live on the ranch in several separate homes, according to Carlin, who declined to give an exact number of people.

Haylee, Watson and Potter slept in the same room, but Carlin said he was not sure if they slept in the same bed.

Last week, in an interview on HLN's Nancy Grace, Watson's roommate said she saw all three in one bed the morning they disappeared, a revelation that further alarmed authorities.

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