Police Question Sex Offenders in Case of Missing Reno Coed

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Police searching for a missing college student said Thursday they plan to interview about 100 registered sex offenders who live within a mile of the home where she vanished five days ago.

Reno police spokesman Steve Frady said the questioning was a routine part of the investigation. Brianna Denison, 19, was last seen sleeping on a couch at a friend's house near the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

"It's something that's done in cases like this," Frady said.

All of the more than 1,700 registered sex offenders in Washoe County around Reno will be contacted as part of the investigation, he added.

Police also continue to investigate two attacks on UNR female students late last year in an effort to determine whether there's a link between them and Denison's disappearance. The previous cases, involving an abduction and rape in December and a fondling in November, also occurred near the campus.

"At this time the other two cases do not appear to be related to her disappearance," Frady said. "However, we're not ruling out that possibility."

Denison's mother and aunt asked for people to keep their eyes open, saying Brianna was responsible and serious about her college career.

"We know that someone will see her and that they will get her back to us," said Lauren Denison, the teen's aunt, on NBC's "Today" show Thursday.

Police questioned a man who gave a ride home to Denison's friend the night Denison disappeared from the home near the UNR campus, but investigators said he is not a suspect.

Denison was last seen at 4 a.m. Sunday. Police said she was sleeping near an unlocked glass door after a night of partying. When her friends awoke later that morning, she was gone — but her clothes, purse and cell phone were left behind.

Police with search dogs have canvassed the neighborhood a half-mile north of the downtown casino district since Monday but have found no sign of the young woman.

"All the indicators are that Brianna has been abducted. It is our sincere hope that she'll come walking in the door any minute, but the longer it goes, the less the chances are of that occurring," said Ron Holladay, a Reno police commander.

Two of her friends, Jessica Deal and K.T. Hunter, said they started making breakfast Sunday morning when they saw Denison's personal items.

"We started piecing together later that hour that everything was still there," Deal said. "There is no way she left voluntarily."

Detectives were awaiting test results on whether a silver dollar-sized stain on the pillow Denison was using is blood.

Denison, who grew up in Reno, is a student at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Friends and family say she was at home over the winter break and had planned to return to school this week.