Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

September 16, 2013

Search for missing girl Monday has happy ending

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

WOODBURY — One week after one search for a missing girl ended tragically another search Monday had a happy ending.

Two-year-old Harlow Bierman likes to play in her family's front yard.

"We can usually hear her from our living room window," said mom Natasha Bierman. "But we hadn't heard her for awhile and we noticed that three of our dogs were not around the house.

"Something wasn't right."

As it turned out, little Harlow had simply followed some of the family dogs into a wooded area about a mile and a half southwest of the house near the Woodbury community in southwestern Cumberland County.

Cumberland County Sheriff Steve Ozier said his department got the call shortly before noon. Ozier immediately contacted personnel from the Montrose, Teutopolis, Greenup and Dieterich fire protection districts, as well as the Illinois State Police.

A quartet of firefighters eventually found Harley less than a hour after she was reported missing. Teutopolis firefighter Mark Webb said he, fellow Teutopolis firefighter Jake Burrell and Montrose firefighters Fred Starwalt and Greg Westjohn were searching for the girl in a side-by-side all-terrain vehicle.

"She was in a dry creek bed and she had two dogs with her," Webb said. "Jake (Burrell) saw the first dog, then I turned back and saw her.

"We just told her that Mommy wanted to see her," Webb said, adding that the little girl exhibited no signs that she was lost.

Searchers were glad the girl was unharmed.

"There's no feeling like it," Webb said.

Mrs. Bierman said the family had searched all the spots she would normally go for about 45 minutes before calling authorities.

Both family members and searchers were thinking about Willow Long, the girl who was found dead several miles south of Watson just one week earlier.

"Our circumstances are different from theirs," Mrs. Bierman said. "But we still didn't know where she was.

"It definitely intensified the search."

Webb, too, was thinking about Willow.

"Willow was running through everybody's mind," he said.