Citing a frustrating lack of leads in the March 28 disappearance of 12-year-old Kayleah Wilson, the FBI today doubled the amount of reward money they are now offering from $10,000 to $20,000.
"We're looking for any help we can get at this point," said James Davis, special agent in charge of the Denver FBI office.
Kayleah went missing nearly three weeks ago after leaving her Greeley Colo. home to attend a birthday party, and hasn't been heard from or seen since.
Davis said the FBI has cut back significantly on the amount of personnel assigned to the case, although that could change if new leads or information surfaces.
Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said investigators remain motivated, but acknowledged that the chances of finding Kayleah safe decreases as more time goes on. While officials say they still can't rule out that Kayleah is a runaway, that possibility is becoming less likely.
"It's very unusual not to have any indication to point us in a direction one way or another," Garner said.
"We still can't rule out the fact that she ran away on her own, although I will say given he amount of time she's been gone and without any contact from her, we're definitely leaning in the direction that this is not a runaway situation and that this is something worse than that," said Davis.
Davis said there are no suspects in the case, and urged the public to pay attention to anyone who may be behaving strangely, such as someone having trouble sleeping or expressing an unusual interest in the case.
Last weekend, more than one hundred community members turned out to scour the area around Greeley under the direction of Bob Walcutt, executive director of The Laura Recovery Center for Missing Children, a Texas-based nonprofit organization called in by the girl's family to help,
"We're going to do whatever we can to find this young girl," Walcutt said.
Greeley police directed the search organizers to areas to look for any signs of Kayleah, Walcutt said.
"As it is at the moment, we don't have any clear direction where she went, or who she went with," Walcutt said. "Right now we are just eliminating areas where she is not."
The search this weekend focused along roadways in ditches, bushes and around trees in the ranchland surrounding Greeley, which Walcutt admitted was not a hopeful sign for the girl.
"Once you start putting people out searching the edge of roads, it's a bad situation and that's where we are now," he said.
Police, Mother: Kayleah Did Not Run Away
Police, who have said they have few leads, say Kayleah never made it to the birthday party.
"We do not believe Kayleah ran away. There is nothing to indicate she did," Sgt. Joe Tymkowych, a Greeley Police spokesman, said days after the girl disappeared. "We just haven't been able to come up with anything that indicates what may have happened."
Kayleah's mother, April Wilson, said that disappearing without calling or coming home is not typical of her daughter.
"She's never run away before," Wilson said. "I am worried she may be in danger because none of her friends have seen her, and it is like she just vanished, but that's not possible."
Kayleah, who is in sixth grade at Brentwood Middle School, was last seen wearing a white-and-pink shirt over a white tank top, blue jeans and white and red shoes. She is described as being 5 feet 1 inch, and approximately 145 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair.
Wilson said her daughter left at 3:40 p.m. for the party, which was just a few blocks away.
"She walked over to the couch and said, 'I love you,' and 'I'll be home by 7,' and she walked out the door and that was it," Wilson said. "She had been talking about the party. She was really looking forward to it."
Kayleah Wilson Disappears From Her Colorado Neighborhood
Tymkowych said that dogs had been used in the investigation initially but proved unsuccessful. He said that investigators working the case do not believe Kayleah had any problems with drugs or alcohol, and have not found anyone who may have wanted to harm her.
"We have no evidence that there was any foul play," he said. "At this point, everything is still a question mark for us."
The eight-block area where Kayleah would have walked to get to the party is well-populated and safe, according to authorities.
Neighborhood Safe Enough to Walk In
Wilson also said that she had no concern about her daughter walking alone and that the neighborhood is not dangerous.
"We all walk everywhere, we don't even have a car," she said. "It's not a bad neighborhood."
Wilson described her daughter as "loving" and "trusting," and said that she's always been well-behaved.
Other than that, Wilson said her daughter is a typical preteen who has a crush on one of the singers from the folk band Celtic Thunder.
On the morning of the day she disappeared, Wilson said her daughter had gone to church with her and had been happy during a lunch at a local restaurant with her grandmother.
"I just want everyone to help find her. I don't care if you're in this state or in another country, just help," Wilson said.