Investigator: Unclear if teen ran away or was abducted

January 11, 2011 5:32:52 PM PST
Authorities searching the past two weeks for a missing 13-year-old girl in West Texas are unsure whether she was abducted or ran away, but they're treating the case as a criminal investigation, authorities said Tuesday.

Hailey Darlene Dunn, a middle school cheerleader, was reported missing Dec. 28, according to Colorado City police. No Amber Alert was issued because the case did not meet the state's criteria, which requires solid evidence that a child has been abducted, among other things.

State Trooper Sparky Dean said there is no evidence that she ran away or met foul play, although investigators continue to follow leads -- including a witness account that Hailey and two girls were walking in a neighborhood a day or two before she went missing.

The FBI, the Texas Rangers and several sheriff's departments are among about a dozen agencies involved in the search. They've scoured about 30 square miles on foot and by helicopter and talked to people in several neighborhoods in Colorado City, a 4,500-resident town about 200 miles west of Fort Worth.

"It's always been a criminal investigation. You don't bring in this kind of manpower for just a runaway," Dean said. "Early on we were exploring all angles, that she might have run away, but we're trying to find Hailey -- bottom line."

Investigators are trying to figure out the names of the girls who may have been with Hailey and talk to them about what Hailey may have said, if anything unusual occurred and to clarify the date that the teen disappeared.

"There's a strong indication that these two girls were the last to see her," said City Manager Pete Kampfer, also a spokesman for Colorado City police. "Investigators are following all leads -- some that she was a runaway and some that she may be under duress, being held against her will."

Hailey was reported missing by her mother, whose boyfriend told police that he last saw Hailey on Dec. 27 when she said she was going to her father's house and then to a friend's house, Dean said. Both adults have been given lie detector tests, but authorities are not releasing those results, Dean said.

The girl is described as white, standing 5-foot-1, weighing 120 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair with blondish streaks.

Her father, Clint Dunn, said Hailey is popular, isn't into boys or drugs and "she's just a good ol' American girl."

Dunn, 33, lives across a field from where his daughter lived with her mother, and from his back door he can see their front door. He said he never saw Hailey the afternoon she disappeared.

"The more this goes on, the more I'm focused on somebody's got my child," Dunn said. "Somebody knows something. My child has not vanished into thin air."

More than 100 billboards featuring a picture of Hailey, information about the case and a law enforcement phone number have been set up along interstates in West Texas and even in other states, Dean said. There is a $15,000 reward for information leading to the teen's return.

Hundreds have attended prayer vigils in several cities.