Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Search for missing girl draws national attention

  • 1:30 p.m. update:  The grandfather of missing four-year-old Alisa Maier issued an urgent plea for her safe return Tuesday afternoon.


    • email print
  • 1:30 p.m. update: The grandfather of missing four-year-old Alisa Maier issued an urgent plea for her safe return Tuesday afternoon.
    The girl apparently was abducted from the front yard of her home in the 300 block of North Carolina Street in Louisiana about 8 p.m. Monday, prompting a nationwide Amber Alert and a search by 60 law enforcement officers and more than 100 residents from as far away as St. Louis.
    “She’s a really good girl,” Roy Harrison said about his granddaughter at a news conference. “Always smiling, happy-go-lucky. We really appreciate everybody getting together to help find her.”
    Louisiana Police Chief Rich Hughes, who has children about the same age as Alisa, broke into tears as he discussed the investigation.
    “Our goal is to bring her back here to her family,” Hughes said. “We are following up on all leads. We are getting a lot of leads.”
    Hughes would not discuss whether the suspect in the case, identified only as a tanned young white man who was driving a black car with front end damage, was connected with a carnival that was set up on the Louisiana riverfront from July 2 to 4 for an Independence Day celebration.
    Hughes called the incident a “random abduction.”
    Special Agent Mike Kaste of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said authorities are not ruling out any leads.
    “We’re exhausting everything,” Kaste said. “We’re looking at every possible avenue to generate leads.”
    The search began door-to-door targeting every dwelling in Louisiana. Volunteers also were searching area woods and camps along the Mississippi River. Counties surrounding Louisiana in Missouri and Illinois were combed.
    “We’re working in concentric circles,” Kaste said. “We expand as the leads take us.”
    Media from Quincy to St. Louis descended upon the town of 4,000 residents. Aaron Mermelstein, a field producer for NBC News, was preparing for live cut-ins on “Today” on Wednesday morning. Reporter Jeff Rossman was being flown in from New York.
    “I think it’s the kind of story that makes parents’ and grandparents’ stomachs across the nation tighten,” Mermelstein said.
    Terry Harrison was among the dozens of people Monday who combed the area around Louisiana searching for a four-year-old girl who apparently was kidnapped as she played in her yard Sunday night.
    Harrison said he was distantly related to Alisa Maier, and felt he had to join the effort to find her.
    “It’s very nerve wracking,” Harrison said. “You have somebody who’s kin to you. You never think it’s going to happen to you.”
    Authorities say Maier was playing with a brother when a black car pulled up about 8 p.m. Sunday in the 300 block of North Carolina just south of downtown Louisiana.
    Page 2 of 2 - A man in his late teens or early 20s grabbed the girl and drove away, authorities said.
    Alisa is a white girl with brown hair and brown eyes. She is three feet tall and weighs about 40 pounds. She was wearing blue jean shorts and a white T-shirt at the time she was taken.
    The suspect was described as a tan-skinned man with dark hair.
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Missouri Highway Patrol, Illinois State Police, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Louisiana Police Department, Louisiana Fire Department and other agencies were going door-to-door in the city limits and combing the woods and fields outside of town on both sides of the Mississippi River.
    “It’s really too early to make any type of assessment,” FBI Agent Mike Kaste said at 8:30 a.m. “Right now, we’re in the beginning of developing leads.”
    Leon Reeves lives a block from the missing girl’s family.
    “It’s just hard to believe,” Reeves said. “This is a quiet neighborhood. We have no break-ins or crime around here. It was a shock. It’s a shame. She’s just in the hands of the Good Lord now.”
    Michael Hoffman and his 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, joined the search. Hoffman and his wife have a girl who just turned four.
    “There’s someone from our community who needs help,” Hoffman said. “It’s an obligation.”
    Jamie Stoops brought his wife Heather, and their two children, Dalton and Taylor, to join the search.
    “We all grew up in this town,” Stoops said. “This town has always been safe for kids. This kind of hits home.”
    Fliers were posted around the area and the Elks Lodge at 120 N. Fifth in Louisiana was coordinating volunteer efforts.
    People with information were asked to call Louisiana police at (573) 754-4021.

    Comments are currently unavailable on this article

      Events Calendar