(09/29/2011)
THOUSANDS JOIN SEARCH

By Ashton Marra
www.wdtv.com

As dive teams from multiple counties slowly search the water near her home, Aliyah Lunsford's family is still waiting for word of the missing three year-old.

They're reaching out to the community for help.

"Around 9 or 9:30, I went back in to wake her up and she was gone," said Lena Lunsford, Aliayah's mother.

Investigators are looking closely for clues inside the residence.

Three year-old Aliayah Lunsford went missing from her Bendale home Saturday morning, and ever since, search teams have turned her typically quiet neighborhood upside down in hopes of bringing her home.

"We've done a foot canvas of the neighborhood, used K-9s, now we have divers in the water. We've entered her in as missing," said Sgt. Michael Posey of the Lewis County Sheriff's Department.

Family members say Aliayah is a shy child. They say she never talks to strangers and would never have wandered off alone.

"She never leaves the house unless an adult is with her. She wouldn't have come out in the yard, or the road for that matter, without her mother," said Joann Evans, Aliayah's grandmother.

Saturday, K-9 units from Lumberport and the South Charleston State Police Detachment combed through the surrounding area and picked up a trail just down the road.

A search that started in the Dennison Street home has lead crews to the banks of the West Fork River, but police say they're still unsure if the river holds the answers to Aliayah's disappearance.

Police say they've dealt with missing persons cases in the past, but Aliyah's is unlike any other.

"Right now there are no clues leading us anywhere. No clues. It's like she's just disappeared," Posey said.

And as family members wait out the search, they say all they can do is ask for your help, and pray for answers.

"They are doing everything that they possibly can, but the more people we can get to help, the better chances of bringing her home," Lunsford said.

"We love her. We miss her," Evans said.

"We want her home," Lunsford said.


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