By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4)– The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says a missing 10-year-old girl inadvertently traveled 26 miles from her home in Golden to Aurora in the back of a family friend’s car.

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The girl hid in the car until it was parked at the friend’s home for the evening, then walked to a nearby neighborhood. It was just after 11 p.m. when she knocked on a stranger’s door.

“A little girl asked if she can borrow a blanket,” said Joyce Russell. “I was actually just thinking that she was one of the kids down here on the corner because they’re always coming asking for stuff.”

Russell watched as the little girl rounded the corner and disappeared. She knew immediately the girl was in trouble. Her fears were confirmed when she saw the picture of Madeleine Malloy flash across her TV.

Joyce Russell (credit: CBS)

“We were like, ‘Oh my God! That’s her! That is her!’”

Russell called police and searched with them until after 2 a.m., when an officer told her they would keep looking, she went home.

“He just said, ‘We’re still on the phones with JeffCo, so you know the only thing we can do is hope we can find her.’”

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Meanwhile, more than 17 agencies and 400 personnel were scouring Jefferson County for any sign of Malloy.

(credit: CBS)

By early Friday morning, there was still no sign of her; until around 6:30 a.m., when Russell got another knock on her door. It was Madeline Malloy.

“I open the door and all I could say was, ‘Oh my God’ and I grabbed her by her little shoulders, I was like, ‘Are you hungry? Do you need something to eat? Are you cold?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’”

Russell again called police and made sure Madeleine was comfortable.

(credit: CBS)

“My daughter made her pancakes and gave her a glass of milk, she wrapped up in the blankets until the police came.”

Russell was curious to know what drove Madeline so far from home. Police say she got in a fight with her parents and went missing around 5 p.m. on Thursday.

“When my daughter asked her if she had any home problems, she just said, ‘I’m always getting fussed at for no reason.’”

Russell said she’s just glad Madeleine knocked on the right door.

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Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.