HOMOSASSA, Fla. – Whenever Jessica Marie Lunsford (search) went out to play, her father and grandparents trusted her to come home when she was supposed to. But now she's missing, vanished from her bedroom during the night, and her father fears she has been kidnapped.
Hundreds of police and volunteers turned out Saturday to search for the missing 9-year-old, and a $25,000 reward was posted.
Jessica, who lives with her father and his parents, has not been seen since Wednesday night, when her grandmother tucked her into bed. Mark Lunsford (search) told authorities he was getting ready for work Thursday morning when he realized his daughter's alarm clock was sounding and she wasn't there. The clothes she had laid out for school were still in place.
Lunsford is convinced his daughter was abducted, but he can't understand how or why.
"I have so many questions in my mind," he said. "How do you do that? How did someone come in and get my daughter? I just can't imagine. How did it happen? How do you do that?"
Citrus County Sheriff Jeff Dawsy (search) told reporters Saturday that the girl's disappearance was not a confirmed abduction, but nothing had been ruled out. "Time is of the extreme essence, and it's now become my enemy so I need to make sure I keep everybody in the picture," Dawsy said Saturday.
More than 250 people gathered at Faith Baptist Church on Saturday morning to join the search in the woods and marshes of western Citrus County, about 60 miles north of Tampa. Some searched on foot while others rode horses and all-terrain vehicles.
Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton, a Homosassa native, and his wife offered a $25,000 reward Saturday for Jessica's return.
"There's not a whole lot more I can do, but hopefully somebody will speak out," said Hampton, who is at spring training. "If this will bring her home safe, it's something I'm willing to do."
Investigators said they had received more than 150 tips but almost no clues aside from an unlocked door and the disappearance of one of Jessica's dolls.
Jessica's mother, Angela Bryant, planned to come from her home in Ohio to join the search. She has remarried and has a 5-year-old son.