Apartments, fields searched for missing girl

MONROE, MI Police and FBI agents chased at least 200 tips on Nevaeh Buchanan and have said she may have been abducted. She was last seen Sunday evening outside the apartment building where she lives with her mother in Monroe, 40 miles south of Detroit.

Talking to reporters, grandmother Sherry Buchanan was clutching to hope as tightly as Nevaeh's toys. "I know she's missing all her animals," she said.

She held some of Nevaeh's favorites, including a pink guitar, motorcycles and stuffed dogs Tank, Herbie and Harley. "She named 'em, every one," Sherry Buchanan said.

The girl she described as a tomboy is the focus of an intense search that has sent investigators into the complex's 180 apartments as well as nearby fields, parks and quarries. Scores of neighbors, friends and family members have organized groups to look for Nevaeh, whose disappearance has touched the southeastern Michigan community.

Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield said no one has been arrested in the round-the-clock investigation. He said persons of interest have been identified.

One of those is a friend of Nevaeh's mother, George Kennedy, 39, who was in custody Wednesday on an unrelated parole violation. Kennedy, whose last known residence was a Monroe motel, is a registered sex offender who was released from prison in 2003 after serving time for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Crutchfield declined to discuss specifics about Kennedy or name other persons of interest.

Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office, said Wednesday he planned to bring in more agents and conduct more interviews. He said his daughter has asked him if he found Nevaeh, and such cases affect investigators.

"It's very urgent, and it's something that touches us. ... It affects us, these cases affect the investigators more than anything else we do," he said.

The base of a large tree outside Nevaeh's apartment building has become the repository for stuffed animals, balloons, candles and cards with messages written for Nevaeh. The spot also has served an impromptu gathering place.

"She was a joyous little girl," said Jody McMullen, after holding hands and praying with two friends.

McMullen, a family friend, said she has organized search groups every day since Nevaeh's disappearance and Jennifer Buchanan, Nevaeh's mother, has joined her on some trips.

Sherry Buchanan said her daughter had been in and out of the apartment Sunday and the windows were open, but she heard nothing until a friend of Nevaeh's asked where she was.

"If Nevaeh would've yelled, Jennifer would have heard her," Buchanan said as she stood with her son, Michael, and Nevaeh's father.

Shane Hinojosa lives in Toledo, Ohio, but has been staying in a tent on the apartment grounds since learning of his daughter's disappearance. He admits he hasn't seen his daughter in years and said he is risking arrest by being in Monroe County, where warrants have been issued against him for failure to pay child support.

He said the family is setting aside differences while they search for Nevaeh.

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