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Aliayah Lunsford, 3, Missing in West Virginia; Disappeared From Her Home

By Pete Kotz in missing persons, unsolved
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 10:51 am
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UPDATE: Police have launched an all-out search for 3-year-old Aliayah Lunsford, and have tracked her scent to the edge of a river. But all they really know is that she disappeared sometime between 6 a.m. and about 9 on Saturday morning. See update after the jump...

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Aliayah's grandma says she's too shy to even leave the yard without her mother
Sometime between 9 and 9:30 Saturday morning, Lena Lunsford went to wake her 3-year-old daughter Aliayah at their home in Bendale, West Virginia. But the girl was gone. Her parents describe her as a shy little girl who would never even leave the yard by herself.

"She never leaves the house unless an adult is with her," her grandma Joann Evans told WDTV. "She wouldn't have come out in the yard, or the road for that matter, without her mother."

And that's what makes her disappearance such a mystery. Police have used canine units to search the immediate area. They've also used dive teams to search the nearby West Fork River. But so far they've come up with nothing.

"Right now there are no clues leading us anywhere," says Lewis County Sheriff's Sgt. Michael Posey. "No clues. It's like she's just disappeared."

We'll keep you posted. (Special thanks to reader Silas Wainwright for the tip.)

UPDATE: Aliayah disappeared early Saturday morning.

Aliayah had been sick Friday night, according to her mom. She was last seen in a bedroom at 6 a.m. Saturday morning when her mother Lena and her 9-year-old sister checked on her. Lena says she returned to the room between 9 and 9:30 a.m. to take the girl's temperature. That's when she found her daughter missing.

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Lena Lunsford sued the West Virginia prison system last year, claiming she'd been sexually assaulted while doing time in a workhouse
Lena's husband had already left for work, so she set out to search for Aliayah in her car. She eventually ran out of gas, so she finally called the sheriff's department at 11:30 a.m. Before the day was over, 100 people were in on the search.

But so far that's turned up empty. The only real clue the cops have is a police dog discovered her scent at the edge of a nearby river. But all that means is that Aliayah could have been in the area within the last three to seven days.

Police have gone door-to-door, administered polygraphs to people they're not naming, and interviewed every sex offender in the county. All apparently have alibis and weren't in the vicinity of Aliayah's home that morning.

The house would have been easy for a toddler to leave. Detectives say one screen door doesn't have a handle and another door doesn't close very well. Surveillance cameras in the area show Lena searching for her daughter, but there's no sign of Aliayah. She simply disappeared from a busy home that includes four other kids, and Lena is pregnant with two more on the way.

Lena has past dealings with police of her own. In May of last year, she sued the West Virginia Division of Corrections, claiming she was sexually assaulted while serving time in a workhouse. We don't know what she was charged with, but she sued a guard and another unnamed person for anxiety, humiliation and emotional distress over the assault.

See our last story from the Missing Persons file:
Steven Powell, Susan Powell's Father-in-Law, Busted for Child Porn.

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