March 20, 2013 EditionAlso in this issue...
Hundreds of volunteers have been combing Lawrence County for any trace of Sidney Randall, 14, of Walnut Ridge, who was reported missing by her mother, Denise Cornell, in the early morning hours on March 10.
The Walnut Ridge Police Department and Lawrence County Sheriff's Department are investigating Randall's disappearance, as well as the death of her stepfather, John Cornell, who was being sought for questioning in her disappearance. Cornell was found dead on March 11 near his truck on a field road off County Road 438 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
WRPD Chief Richy Thatcher said there have not been any leads or information to narrow the search area, making the assistance provided by volunteers very valuable.
"There is so much ground to cover," Thatcher said. "I cannot stress enough the heartfelt thanks to our community and neighbors. We appreciate everyone's efforts."
While law enforcement officials have been encouraging people to check their own property since Randall was first reported missing, Saturday was the first day for organized search parties of civilian volunteers.
More than 100 people, including many from outside Lawrence County, gathered at the Walnut Ridge Fire Department to receive instructions Saturday morning.
The WRPD and LCSD coordinated another search day on Sunday, as well. Monday brought a transition as the Ohio Chapter of Texas EquuSearch, a renowned organization that helps with missing person cases, took over coordinating the search for Randall.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or older and should bring a photo ID. Both foot and ATV searchers are needed.
David Rader, search coordinator, said the group is committed to be in Walnut Ridge until Monday and they are planning a major search effort again on Saturday and Sunday.
"By the time we leave here, we are either going to find her or we are going to know where she's not," he said. "With the community's help we are really going to hit it hard this weekend."
Rader said their group works in conjunction with law enforcement to allow the police to conduct the investigation while EquuSearch coordinates the search.
"The sheriff's department, local law enforcement, state police and FBI have all been tremendous to work with," he said. "We have been welcomed with open arms. We are going to work together to make this happen."
Rader said there cannot be too many volunteers.
"The more ground that we can cover the better off we will be," he said.
Search parties will form at the Walnut Ridge Community Center at 9 a.m. today through Friday and at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If individuals want to help but are not available in the morning, a second wave will be sent out between noon and 2 p.m.
Rader offered his appreciation to everyone who has already volunteered to search.
"People have taken a lot of time out of their day and away from their families," he said. "Even though this is a tragedy, it brings the community together."
Many community members have also found another way to assist in the search for Randall by providing food, drinks, paper products and monetary donations to help meet the needs of those who are serving in the search parties.
Peggy Maryman and Gail Weir have helped coordinate this effort. Several restaurants and other businesses, as well as countless individuals have contributed.
"Everyone says they just want to get involved in some way," Maryman said.
For information what is needed, individuals can call Maryman at 210-683-2474.