GREELEY, Colo. – Four days after a 12-year-old northern Colorado girl disappeared after leaving home to walk to a friend's birthday party, authorities expanded their search Thursday to include places she was known to frequent, including a music store, library and shopping mall.
"We're hoping against hope that she's out there, she's safe and she is just a runaway," said Sgt. Joe Tymkowych of the police department in Greeley, about 60 miles north of Denver. "But we have to try to figure all the possible propensities of things that could happen and pursue those leads as well."
Kayleah (Kay LEE uh) Wilson was last seen Sunday afternoon, when she left her Greeley home to go to a birthday party just across a busy highway from her apartment building.
Authorities have since gone door to door seeking information on her whereabouts and used dogs to comb medians, ditches and bushes along the highway for clues. Investigators also have interviewed friends, family and acquaintances and have found nothing to indicate she ran away, Tymkowych said. Police planned to re-interview some of those people Thursday.
About 60 police and FBI agents were aiding in the search for the sixth-grader, whom her mother, April Wilson, described as a "good kid."
you know, typical kid stuff."
Wilson said she had no information on what may have happened to her daughter but wanted her to know, "We love you. We miss you. Just come home. We want you home."
Tymkowych said police have contacted the girl's father, who lives in California, and other family members to advise them that she's missing and may be contacting them if she ran away.
He says Kayleah had a boyfriend, who has been interviewed and is cooperating. He is not considered a suspect or person of interest. April Wilson also spent about 12 hours at the police station Wednesday, but Tymkowych said Wilson was there assisting police in the search.
The middle school student is 5-foot-1, weighs 145 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes. Authorities say Kayleah has asthma and was believed to be carrying an inhaler. She doesn't have a cell phone.
April Wilson said her daughter likes pizza and the color pink, and that her favorite band is called Celtic Thunder.
At Kayleah's school a few blocks from her home, teachers on Thursday wore purple and pink memorial ribbons turned sideways to resemble a "K'' for Kayleah.
Brentwood Middle School science teacher Mandy Skinner described Kayleah as a soft-spoken girl who often kept to herself but participated enthusiastically in group discussions and completed her assignments.
"She's a typical sixth-grader," Skinner added.
Kayleah's case is not the first missing-child case in Greeley. Jonelle Matthews, 12, disappeared on Dec. 20, 1984, and was never found. That case remains unsolved.
"That again was one of those situations where we were never able to establish if there was a runaway involved, or if it was an abduction," Tymkowych said.
FBI Denver field office spokesman Dave Joly said the FBI regularly provides help in investigating possible child abductions.