Search for missing SD girl put on hold, but investigation continues
RAPID CITY -- The search for a 9-year-old girl who's been missing for more than a week after running away from a residential youth home in rural Pennington County has been put on hold for now, it was announced Monday, Feb. 11.
"We're regrouping and re-assessing, trying to decide how and when we continue our recovery efforts," Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom said during a news conference at the Public Safety Building in Rapid City.
"The weather has not been our friend," he added. "Everyone involved in the search has poured themselves into this physically and emotionally. It's been very draining on both fronts."
Thom said while the search efforts into the disappearance of Serenity Dennard of Sturgis are paused, the investigation remains ongoing until she is found. He said no scenario regarding what happened to her or where she might have gone is being ruled out.
Dennard left the Children's Home Society, located near Rockerville, around 10:45 a.m., Feb. 3. After searching for her, staff called law enforcement at 12:26 p.m.
After search and rescue personal arrived, Thom said, Dennard was entered as a missing person into the FBI's National Crime Information Center, which can be accessed by law-enforcement agencies across the country. An Endangered Missing Advisory was issued the next day. An Amber Alert was not issued since the system requires evidence of a kidnapping and a description of a kidnapper or their vehicle.
Investigators have conducted 115 interviews and are following 23 leads into where Dennard might be, according to a fact sheet distributed at the press conference. They have served two search warrants and are working on a third warrant, reviewed videos from cameras at seven businesses and used the Internet Crimes Against Children department for computer forensics.
The videos have shown no signs of Dennard, Thom said. The warrants are for items such as phone records, not nearby homes.
"We're covering all of our bases to make sure we haven't missed something," Thom said.