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Girls threatened by family suicide pact found safe in California, police say

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MELBOURNE, Fla. - Florida Department of Children and Families agents are flying to California Wednesday to bring back two girls threatened by a family suicide pact.

The Firth family, with 4-year-old Kristen and 2-year-old Kia, was found safe in California after fleeing Brevard County last week, police said.

Their father, James Firth, told staff at a rehabilitation hospital that the family had a suicide pact if treatment for Kristen's autism didn't show improvement, or the money ran out, Melbourne police said last Friday.

"We have to see those kids and we have to know they are OK," Carrie Hoeppner of DCF said.

Hoeppner said statements like the one made by James Firth must be taken seriously.

"It was during the course of the investigation while investigators were there that the family fled," Hoeppner said.

After searching Florida, and with TSA keeping an eye on airports, investigators found the family staying with acquaintances in Newark, Calif., about 40 miles from San Francisco.

The Firths were living in Vietnam, but came to the United States to get treatment for their daughter and had been staying in Melbourne.

Officials said the girls are now with child protection officials in California, and all members of the family are safe and in good health.

Officials said the children will need to return to Florida to appear with DCF and go before a judge to determine what happens next.

Investigators said they will be able to make a better assessment when the children are back.

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