Friday, January 13, 2023

Toddler reported missing after postal carrier finds 5-year-old sister wandering alone: Police

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CYRIL, Okla. — Oklahoma police are searching for a missing 4-year-old girl after a postman spotted her sister walking alone near her home on Tuesday, authorities said.

Local authorities began searching for Athena Brownfield Tuesday afternoon when the postal worker spotted her 5-year-old sister near the Cyril children’s home and notified police, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which is also involved in the search.

“Investigations into her whereabouts are active and ongoing,” the agency said on Thursday.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol on Wednesday issued a missing and endangered persons alert to people within a 15-mile radius of Cyril, about 70 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.

According to Brook Arbeitman, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement is working to establish an accurate timeline as to when Athena was last seen.

The parents’ whereabouts are “part of the ongoing investigation,” Arbeitsman told reporters Wednesday.

“Right now, our top priority is tracking them down and figuring out who’s next to blame,” Arbeitman said. “But we have to find this little girl.”

Arbeitsman said whether the child was a victim of physical harm “has yet to be determined,” although she is currently listed as vulnerable.

“She’s a little kid and she’s missing and she’s alone in the elements,” Arbeiterman said.

Her sister does not require medical attention and is currently in federal protective custody, Arbeitsman said.

The National Center for Missing Persons & Exploited children and soldiers from Fort Sill are among those helping in the search, Arbeitman said. State Troopers conducted sonar searches of waters in and around Cyril on Wednesday. Search dogs from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and drones from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs were also used in the search.

Volunteers also helped conduct a net search, searching empty homes and local waterways, police said.

Arbeitman said authorities are finding items in the city that could be “relevant” and helpful to the case, though they didn’t elaborate.

“We find things that we hope could give us clues,” she said.

Law enforcement is encouraging residents and businesses to share any surveillance footage they may have, including doorbell cameras, and to search their properties.

Athena is described by authorities as 3 feet tall and 45 pounds with light brown hair and blue eyes. It is believed that she recently wore a butterfly hoodie. Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations at 800-522-8017 or tips@osbi.ok.gov.

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