Toms River police said Thursday they charged three individuals in the disappearance of Ashley Combs, who returned safely to the township’s police department Wednesday night. Two of those charged were family members, including her father, with whom Ashley was staying, police said.
“It should be noted that early in the investigation officers and detectives involved with the case determined that it was highly likely that Ms. Combs was not in danger and was more than likely staying with family or friends in the area willingly,” police spokeswoman Jillian Messina said.
On Wednesday, she said, Detective Ryan Quinn, with assistance from Detectives Andrew Chencharik and Steve Bucci, were able to locate Ashle, in the custody of her biological father, Brian Combs.
“It is believed, and now borne through the efforts of this investigation, that participants moved Ashley between different homes in an effort to conceal her location while law enforcement was actively trying to locate her,” said Messina.
Brian Combs with obstruction and interference with custody, and he was subsequently lodged at the Ocean County Jail. Linda Roszel was charged with obstruction and interference with custody; she was subsequently released on a summons; and Mechelle Combs was charged with obstruction and released on a summons. Additional charges are pending further review of the information collected to date.
Additionally, during the course of the investigation “it was learned that there were concerns about Ashley’s home environment,” said Messina.
The New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly DYFS) will take over that aspect of the case, and police will not issue any additional information, Messina said.
Combs disappeared after leaving Toms River North High School on Friday, prompting a social media firestorm and threats from an attorney hired by the girl’s aunt and uncle, who held legal custody over her.