K-9s, volunteers, police search in West Virginia for 3-year-old girl

Aliayah Lunsford, 3, was last seen by her mother and sister around 6 a.m. Saturday, police say.

Story highlights

  • Aliayah Lunsford, 3, was last seen by her mother and sister early Saturday, police say
  • Her mother couldn't find her, running out of gas three hours later as she drove looking
  • A sheriff's lieutenant says thus far, "we haven't come up with anything"
K-9 dogs and hundreds of volunteers have joined authorities in West Virginia to look for a missing 3-year-old girl, but a sheriff's department lieutenant said in the two days since she was last seen that "we haven't come up with anything."
Aliayah Lunsford's mother and 9-year-old sister told police they saw the girl around 6 a.m. Saturday in a bedroom in their home in Weston, West Virginia, located between Charleston and Morgantown. The mother said she returned about three hours later to see the girl -- who had been sick the night before -- and take her temperature, but Aliayah wasn't there, Lewis County Sheriff's Lt. David Parks said Monday.
By that time, the girl's stepfather had already been picked up and left for work. The mother got in her car and drove around looking for the child, at one point running out of gas, said Parks. She called police to report Aliayah missing around 11:30 a.m.
A sheriff's deputy arrived within 10 minutes and a larger crew by noon, according to Parks. About 100 volunteers were on scene by the end of the day, alongside local, state and federal law enforcement agents.
The investigation so far has included search teams diving in nearby waters, interviews with relatives and neighbors, and a door-to-door search. That's in addition to searches conducted by volunteers. A bloodhound did detect Aliayah's scent in the vicinity of a nearby river, with a dog handler saying the girl likely had been in the area in the last three to seven days.
"We are still on it right now," said Parks of the search and investigation.
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According to a poster from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Aliayah was last seen in pajama bottoms featuring the TV cartoon character Dora, a pink princess sweatshirt and no shoes. The girl is white, weighs about 35 pounds, stands 3 feet tall and has brown eyes and hair. She has pierced ears and is missing her top four front teeth.
The center characterized Aliayah as "endangered missing." But no Amber Alert has been issued for her, in part because authorities do not have a name or description of a suspect who might have taken her.
Parks said there were no signs of forced entry in the home, which the girl shared with four other children, her stepfather and her mother, who is pregnant with twins. There is a screen door, which does not have a handle, and a regular door, which doesn't shut very well, the lieutenant said.
He added that authorities have checked with "just about every sex offender in the county," getting alibis for them and not having indications that any were near the girl's residence at the time she went missing.
Surveillance video shows the missing girl's mother during her apparent morning search for Aliayah, but there has been no sign yet of the girl. Some people have been interviewed as many as six times, and polygraph tests have been administered, though Parks would not say to whom.
"We are interviewing everybody," he added, noting that no one has been identified even as a "person of interest." "Everybody is a suspect right now."