Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

September 8, 2013

UPDATE: Still no leads in search for missing girl



"We have to know there has been an abduction," Sheriff John Monnet said. "At this time, we just feel Willow walked away from her home."

Effingham County Public Transit, as well as area school districts, were getting involved by providing buses to ferry searchers to points within the search perimeter. The Effingham, Teutopolis and Altamont school districts all brought buses to the scene. Effingham Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said drivers were able to help out in the search between their morning and afternoon routes.

"It's important for us to be involved because this is a 7-year-old girl," Doan said. "This just tugs at your heart.

"Everybody is doing what they can to make sure this little girl comes home safe."

"Everybody" included young mothers Tiffany Wasson and Shannon Bennett, both of Effingham. In a van loaded down with coolers, ice, sports drinks, water, snacks and batteries, the women were headed to the Watson Civic Center, the staging area for civilian volunteers.

Both women said Willow's disappearance hit close to home.

"I have a newborn son, and I could not imagine something happening to him," Wasson said.

"I have two little girls around the same age (as Willow)," Bennett said. "If something like this happened to one of them, I would want as many as people possible out searching."

Niccum encouraged Watson-area farmers to check their outbuildings for signs of Willow. Meanwhile, police had been going door-to-door within the village in an effort to gather any information they could.

"Somebody has to see something," he said.

Niccum confirmed that the FBI had been on the scene Sunday. He didn't know whether federal agents were in town Monday, however.

Police confirmed that Willow apparently changed clothes before leaving the Circle Drive home Sunday morning. The clothes her mother described last seeing her in were found at the home.

Monnet added that Willow, who is near-sighted, did not take her glasses with her when she left the home.

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