After 3 weeks, no sign of missing Greeley preteen |

After 3 weeks, no sign of missing Greeley preteen

Monte Whaley
The Denver Post

GREELEY – Knocks on the doors of 1,000 homes and apartments in Greeley have yielded no clues. Searches of local ponds and ditches have turned up nothing. Behavioral science, pseudoscience, soulful prayers and dogged citizen searches have had the same result.

Scores of police and FBI agents have come up empty, as have pleas on Facebook and Twitter.

Twelve-year-old Kayleah Wilson has vanished.

“It’s a mystery, a puzzle,” said Greeley police spokesman Sgt. Joe Tymkowych.

On March 28, after leaving her family’s modest apartment in Greeley for a birthday party about eight blocks away, the sixth-grader at Brentwood Middle School disappeared.

With each moment Kayleah remains missing, pessimism and doubt grow stronger. FBI and Greeley police admitted as much last week when they upped the reward to $20,000 for any viable lead that brings Kayleah home.

“We’re looking for any help we can get,” FBI Special Agent Jim Davis said.

Dawn Davis, senior case manager for the Texas-based Laura Recovery Center, also concedes that finding Kayleah safe and sound is stretching into a long shot. “With each passing day, the window of opportunity closes even more,” she said. “We’re working past the third week, and that doesn’t work to Kayleah’s benefit.”

Since the center was founded in 1997 by Bob and Gay Smither, Davis has worked about 1,500 cases. The Smithers wanted to help other families find their missing children after their own, 12-year-old Laura Kate Smither, was kidnapped and murdered.

The center joined the search for Kayleah in the first few days after she was reported missing, helping to organize volunteer searches. The center is still consulting with local groups.

Davis is a realist, noting that even if Kayleah ran away from home, she still is not necessarily safe. “The problem is that they (runaways) are likely being victimized.”

Still, even the bleakest case can turn out well, if people act on their intuition, Davis said.

Elizabeth Smart was 14 when she was taken by knifepoint from her Salt Lake City home in June 2002. She was held by Brian David Mitchell and his accomplice for nine months.

But a woman, acting on a hunch, helped rescue Smart, Davis said.

One day the woman noticed that a girl accompanying Mitchell just looked out of place, Davis said.

“She just seemed to be dressed out of the ordinary and her eyes caught her attention. So instead of questioning or saying, ‘Oh, I’m just crazy,’ she made the call,” Davis added. “You don’t have to decide if something makes sense or not; if it looks out of place, just make the phone call.”

At one point, about 50 FBI agents and 30 Greeley police officers were working the Kayleah case, and they knocked on as many as 1,000 doors, Tymkowych said. Hundreds of leads have come in to the FBI and police.

A few have come from unorthodox sources.

“Some would be considered psychic,” Tymkowych said. “Some say they’ve had dreams that tell them where she is; others have had visions.”

One man said he could place his dowsing rod over a map and help determine the whereabouts of Kayleah.

“We will take any possibility and take a look at it,” Tymkowych said.

So far, however, nothing has panned out.

FBI psychological profilers also are working the case and have issued tips on how to spot a possible kidnapper.

A recent display of nervousness or irritability could be suspicious, the FBI says, and so could the shaving off of facial or head hair or the growing of a mustache or beard.

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