MONROE, Mich. – Investigators continue to search for a missing 5-year-old girl whose mother spoke of a sex offender considered a person of interest in the case as a "father figure" to her daughter, who disappeared five days ago.
Police found a blood-stained towel, shorts and a photo of a girl similar to Nevaeh Buchanan during a search of the motel room where 36-year-old George Kennedy, a registered sex offender, was staying Thursday. Kennedy is a longtime acquaintance of the girl's mother, Jennifer Buchanan.
"My relationship with George was just friends," Jennifer Buchanan told MyFOXDetroit. "I haven't dated him for a year and a half now. I am not a judgmental person so I looked over (his sex offenses), but at the same time I still kept my guards up on that.
"George had a good relationship upon my daughter as a father figure, always there for her. If he came around she'd see him she'd run up to him and hug him," she told MyFOXDetroit.
Buchanan also knew a second sex offender, Roy Smith, a convicted rapist recently released from prison. Smith is also considered a person of interest by the sheriffs investigating the case.
Even as she called her friendship with the two men "irrelevant," Buchanan said that one of them must know something about her daughter, whom she still believes is alive.
"Someone, either George or Roy, knows something," she told MyFOXDetroit. "I just have got to believe that my daughter isn't dead until I have a body. I don't want to sit around and wait — I don't want to wait for any kind of news, whether it is good or bad."
The Monroe County Sheriffs Office says there is no reason to believe the girl is dead, though a search warrant they provided says there is evidence that the 5-year-old was stabbed, MyFOXDetroit.com reported.
Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said Friday during a press conference that investigators interviewed 240 people Thursday at the apartment complex where the Buchanans reside in Monroe, 40 miles south of Detroit.
A task force of local, state and federal law enforcement personnel has received 530 tips related to the disappearance Sunday of Nevaeh Buchanan, he said.
Crutchfield says evidence submitted to the Michigan State Police crime lab is being analyzed.
Nevaeh is white, under 4 feet tall, weighs 45 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.
Police are asking anyone with information to call (734) 243-7070.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.