Dowagiac law enforcement conduct search for possible kidnap victim

Published 12:11 am Thursday, April 3, 2014

An officer with Pokagon Police stop a vehicle near the intersection of Riverside and Hill, near where the search is taking place. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

An officer with Pokagon Police stop a vehicle near the intersection of Riverside and Hill, near where a search is taking place following reports of an alleged kidnapping of a teenage girl. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Dowagiac law enforcement officials are searching the woods around Riverside Drive looking for a teenage girl who was possibly kidnapped.

Headed by Dowagiac Police, officers with the police department, fire department, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and Pokagon Police have been scouring the area behind Burling & Gillesby Dental Clinic looking for either the victim or her alleged abductor, who officials describe as a white male subject.

“If there’s a cop or firefighter in the area, they’re here,” said Director of Public Safety Steven Grinnewald.

According to a press release submitted by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department earlier this evening, Dowagiac police received word of a possible kidnapping at around 7:18 p.m.

Police said they spoke to a group of three eyewitnesses who were hanging out in the dentist’s parking lot. Police say the teens were no older than 14 years old.

Witnesses claimed to have seen a teenage girl pulled into the woods by a man, who they said was carrying a handgun with him. The witnesses claimed that both the girl and the person carrying her off appeared to be teenagers, Grinnewald said.

Despite the fact that police have yet to discover any signs of struggle or other clues that would confirm it was a kidnapping, officials are treating the reported incident as such, Grinnewald said.

At this time, police have not received any clues to the identity of either the purported victim or suspect, the police chief added.

Police describe the victim as a white female teenager with straight blonde straight shoulder length hair wearing a pink zip up sweater or sweatshirt. The suspect is described a white male of unknown age wearing blue jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt with writing on it that possibly said “Aeropostale.”

Local K-9 units have also been dispatched to the area, but have proved ineffective so far, Grinnewald said.

“The problem with blood hounds is that they need a personal article to pick up the scent,” he said. “We still do not have the identity of the victim.”

Police have been stopping cars traveling near Riverside Drive, asking them if they have information about the possible incident and searching vehicles.

“We don’t have much information at the moment, so we’re investigating what we can,” Grinnewald said.

Citizens with information are urged to call 911.