Missing girl found

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News

August 5, 2010 - 12:00 AM

A frantic, overnight search for a missing 8-year-old Westphalia girl ended on a good note this morning when she was located at a residence in east Iola.
Katina Brown, reported missing shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday from Crossroads Motel, was returned to her parents, Ted and  Genia Brown, this morning. Officers received a call pinpointing Brown’s location shortly before 7 a.m.
Iola Police Chief Jared Warner said that the case remains under investigation.
Warner declined to give the address of the residence in which she was located, although an Iola police officer was spotted leaving a housing complex in the 400 block of Eisenhower Drive with a girl later identified as Brown.
Interviews were continuing this morning “so we can put the pieces of the puzzle together and get a better idea of exactly what happened,” Warner said.
Genia Brown told the Register that her daughter, who will be a second-grader at Westphalia Elementary School this fall, had planned to spend the night with Iolan Wayne Brown Jr. and his girlfriend, Dawn Russell, at Crossroads.
“We’re still not exactly sure what happened,” Genia Brown said.
The Browns said they received a call from Russell shortly after 10 o’clock, telling them that Katina was missing. Russell then called police.
Officers from Iola Police Department, the Allen County Sheriff’s Department and other county emergency crews started a search on foot surrounding the motel before slowly expanding to encompass much of the western half of Iola.
The city issued a pair of alerts to notify the public, the first as part of the police department’s new “A Child Is Missing Alert” program, the second through the county’s Code Red telephone system. Both programs utilize recorded messages to notify residents about emergency situtations.
Warner estimated more than 2,000 telephone calls were sent out in minutes.
The messages, in turn, brought in scores of additional volunteers from Iola and other nearby communities to help.
“It was absolutely amazing to see the passion people had for finding this missing girl,” Chief Warner said. “The community’s response was tremendous.”
Ted and Genia Brown, who by then had reached Iola from Westphalia, started searching themselves, focusing their efforts along Coon Creek and then State Street.
“We would be walking along when somebody would drive up asking if we knew who the girl was and if we’d seen her,” Genia Brown said. “One person said he was from Humboldt. We had a lot of people helping.”
A Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter, equipped with a thermal imaging camera capable of detecting a person’s body heat in darkened areas, was deployed as well.
The search was halted at 4:45 this morning, Warner said, to give searchers a chance to rest and to allow the Kansas Bureau of Investigation time to get to the scene. Information also had been sent by then to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children.
Warner said an Amber Alert was not issued because those alerts are issued only when police suspect a child has been abducted.
A briefing for law enforcement teams was set to begin when the call came in about the girl’s whereabouts at about 7 o’clock.
Plans were put in place for Iola city employees to join the search as well later this morning.
“We were going to use every tool we had to find her,” Warner said.
Officers questioned the girl for about two hours before returning her to her parents. Officers continued to question others involved with the case, including Wayne Brown and Russell.

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