Authorities searching the past two weeks for a missing 13-year-old girl in West Texas have no evidence that she ran away and are treating the case as a criminal investigation, an investigator 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 and information that would help the public in finding the child or suspect, including a vehicle description.
Authorities from about a dozen agencies have searched about 30 square miles on foot and by helicopter and have 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," State Trooper Sparky Dean told The Associated Press. "Early on we were exploring all angles, that she might have run away, but we're trying to find Hailey -- bottom line."
Dean declined to say why authorities no longer think she may have run away. But he said there still is no evidence of a crime, although investigators continue to follow leads -- including a witness account that Hailey and two girls were walking in a neighborhood on Dec. 26 or Dec. 27.
Hailey was reported missing by her mother, and investigators said she was last seen Dec. 27 by her mother's boyfriend. Both have been given lie detector tests, but authorities are not releasing those results, Dean said.
Agencies working on the case include the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Texas Department of Public Safety and several sheriff's departments in nearby counties.
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, told AP that 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.
At a recent vigil in Sweetwater, folks held hands and prayed, and children released 100 balloons after being told to make a wish for Hailey to come home safely, the Abilene Reporter-News reported.
"We pray with everything we are that you bring sweet Hailey home," resident Alanna Glass said, choking back tears.