The family of a missing 10-year-old girl in Iowa believes she is still alive as the frantic search for the child enters its second week.
Breasia "Bree" Terrell was reported missing earlier this month after sleeping over at her father’s apartment in Davenport. She was last seen in the early morning hours of July 10. The girl’s mother suspects her daughter is being held against her will.
“She’s out there somewhere and when she’s home safe, that’s when the story begins,” Aishia Lankford told NBC's Dateline. “That’s when she’ll tell us what happened. But we just have to find her. That’s what we’re focused on now.”
Lankford said Breasia spent the night with her father, Henry Dinkins, and her half-brother on July 9 at an apartment on the 2700 block of east 53rd Street in Davenport.
“She’s close with her brother and wanted to hang out with him,” Lankford said. “We had no reason to worry that anything bad would happen.”
Lankford’s last communication with her daughter was a text that evening. She said her daughter had been playing video games, according to Dateline.
“Bree texted me and said, ‘Good night, Mama, I love you,’” Lankford recalled. “And that’s the last time I heard from her.”
When Dinkins called her the next morning and claimed Breasia had disappeared, the puzzled mother first thought she was being pranked, she said.
“At first I laughed because it sounded like a joke,” Lankford said. “It didn’t make any sense. It’s not like her. She would never walk out, especially in the middle of the night. In the dark? No. Never.”
Davenport Police Department subsequently opened an investigation into the missing girl’s whereabouts. An Amber Alert was issued for Breasia on July 15.
Dinkins has been named a person of interest in his daughter’s disappearance, according to NBC News. Warrants were later issued for his arrest on unrelated charges.
On July 10 — the day his daughter reportedly disappeared — Dinkins was booked on sex offender registration and probation violation charges, according to separate court records obtained by Oxygen.com.
He’s currently in custody, online jail records indicate. In 1990, the Iowa father was convicted of third degree sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 14, according to an Iowa sex offender registry. Dinkins was 17 at the time of the conviction.
The missing girl’s father isn’t currently a suspect in his daughter's disappearance nor has he been charged in the case, law enforcement said.
Lankford suspects Dinkins knows the truth about what happened to their young daughter, claiming he “broke down” during a recent jailhouse telephone call with her.
“I’ve known him for 11 years and I’ve never seen him show that kind of emotion,” Lankford told Dateline. "I know he knows something. I told him, ‘You’re never going to have a good night’s sleep in that cell until she’s home.’”
Davenport Police have asked the public to come forward with any information related to Dinkins’ whereabouts and activities on the evening of July 9 and early morning hours of July 10. Authorities said Dinkins is known to drive a maroon Chevrolet Impala sedan.
On Tuesday, local police announced organized search efforts for the missing 10-year-old were being halted.
“We are incredibly grateful to the community to assist in the search for Breasia,” Davenport Police Chief Paul Sikorski said. “Several hundred community members responded to our call for volunteers to search, showing the care and compassion of our community.”
Authorities noted they’d received a number of tips related to the 10-year-old’s disappearance.
“At this time, we continue to focus resources on the investigation to pursue the leads that have been developed and are evaluating the tips that were provided to us by the community,” Sikorski added.
Hundreds of the missing girl’s family, friends, and concerned community members have vowed to keep searching.
“We’re just out here every day, hanging fliers and giving them to businesses to display,” Demarcus Lankford, the missing girl’s uncle, told Dateline. “We just need to get her face out there as much as possible. We need to find her.”
“The family is going through a very hard time right now,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said.
Meanwhile, the girl's mother is holding tightly onto the hope that her daughter is alive and unharmed.
“I can’t wait until she comes home and I have my girl back,” Lankford told Dateline. “And she’ll have her voice. And she’ll be able to tell us everything.”
Breasia is approximately 4 foot 5 inches and weighs about 75 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about Breasia’s whereabouts is asked to call Davenport Police at 563-326-6125 or to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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