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Friends, Neighbors Continue Unofficial Search for Girl

   |  Posted Jul 17th, 2006 @ 4:41pm


John Hollenhorst Reporting

Family and friends searched all day Monday for Destiny Norton. Her family has called for volunteers to meet Tuesday at the northwest corner of Liberty Park at 7 am to continue looking for the five-year-old girl.

Police support the search, and say they hope getting Destiny's picture the most exposure possible can only help the case.

Almost as soon as Destiny was reported missing Sunday night, many neighbors started searching. But as the day wore on Monday, police and neighbors seemed to be on different wavelengths.

It's hard not to think of the contrast with Elizabeth Smart. The Smart family was media savvy, well-connected, highly organized, carefully cooordinating thousands of volunteers. Today the volunteer search seemed somewhat unorganized, and it was actively discouraged by police.

In the hours right after Destiny disappeared, about 30 neighbors organized into search teams of two or three.

Cadie Gregerson, Neighbor; "I came over and I talked straight to the mother. Then I went and took my daughter inside and then went straight out to go look."

By morning, numerous volunteers seemed to be working the streets and sidewalks as individuals, with little coordination.

Telina Lund, Neighbor: "Well, we've handed out fliers, we put fliers in the park."

Some looked in dumpsters. Others stopped cars, spreading the word.

Neighbor: "We're looking for a blonde haired, green streaks in her hair, stands about this tall."

By mid-day, it seemed everyone had seen the fliers. Everyone knew something mysterious and probably terrible had happened in their neighborhood.

This was the un-official search. The official search involved about 50 law enforcement personnel. They covered a five-block radius, asking residents about a short, heavy-set man.

David Malley, Salt Lake City Police Dept.: "And I've been told by many, many people in this area that he frequents this area on a bicycle. And he has a history that has us concerned."

But police worked separately from volunteers. They even asked the media to discourage volunteers from coming into the neigborhood.

Reporter: "Do you want help from the public in searching?"

Robin Snyder, Salt Lake City Police Dept.: "Not yet. We don't have an organized search effort yet, but if we do get one, we will definitely put out the word."

So, the volunteer search went on, unofficially.

Cadie Gregerson: "I mean, I have a child too. How would I feel? It's the same way. What if my child went missing? I'd be completely devastated."

Kailenna Berry, Neighbor: "We're just keeping our hopes up, having faith in this. We're going to keep looking. We're going to find her and we're just hoping and praying right now."

Later today, police said volunteers might be helpful if they do their searching outside a five block radius. They believe law enforcement has already thoroughly combed the area inside the circle.

However, they welcome calls from anyone who sees or hears anything that would be helpful.

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Updated: Friday July 21, 2017 10:38 pm