In a joint statement, the Great Bend Police Department, Barton County Sheriff’s Office, Barton County Attorney’s Office, Kansas Attorney General’s Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday evening that an unidentified body has been discovered just outside of Great Bend mid to late Tuesday afternoon. Authorities wouldn’t say whether the body was that of a male or female. The body had been taken to Wichita for an autopsy. Positive identification is pending those results, which won’t be known until sometime today.
The investigation continues regarding the disappearance of Alicia DeBolt.
The case of Alicia DeBolt, a 14-year-old Great Bend girl missing since Saturday night, has attracted national media attention. The story was the topic of the lead segment of the Nancy Grace Show Tuesday night on HLN, formerly CNN Headline News. The show featured the Great Bend Tribune’s Managing Editor Dale Hogg as one of the panelists. It can be viewed at cnn.com.
Also, authorities are urging anyone with information about DeBolt to contact 1-800-KS-CRIME, the Great Bend Police Department at 620-793-4120, 911, or Crime Stoppers at 620-792-1300 or 888-305-1300.
As local and state law enforcement authorities enter their third day of searching for a missing Great Bend teenage girl, anxious family and friends of 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt are desperate for leads and praying for her safe return.
“It’s mind draining and heart breaking,” said Holly DeBolt, Alicia’s sister-in-law. “Not having any leads, it’s numbing.”
Alicia was last seen at about 11 p.m. Saturday when she left her house at 910 Stone to attend a party in southeast Great Bend with a 19-year-old male. Alicia discussed her plans with her mother Tammy Conrad before leaving, and her mom is convinced she is not a run-away.
Family members reported Alicia missing to the Great Bend Police Department late Sunday morning. Although the case didn’t qualify for an Amber Alert, the GBPD did contact the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, which is assisting.
The KBI issued a state-wide media alert. Conrad visited with KBI agents Tuesday afternoon.
“There are no new developments at this time,” said Police Chief Dean Akings said at mid-afternoon. The probe now involves the police department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office, the KBI, and the United States and Barton County attorney’s offices.
“We are interviewing as many people as we can,” Akings said. They are contacting those Alicia may have been in touch with in the 24-48 hours prior to her disappearance.
“We’re working around the clock to locate her,” he said. However, “we would appreciate some help.”
Local media websites and social networking sites have been rife with comments about Alicia’s disappearance. “This is a hindrance to us,” Akings said. Most of these postings are false, but officers have to follow up on them. “It’s causing a lot of legwork and using up time we don’t have.”
“People go on there and say random things,” Holly said, adding she and others who know Alicia have stopped going to those sites. Also, anyone who calls is being referred to the GBPD. “We’ve been advised not to say anything.”
According to a statement issued by Unified School District 428 Superintendent Tom Vernon, district personnel are working with authorities to locate Alicia. “She is a student of ours and we are concerned about her safety and well being,” Vernon said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. We hope the story concludes with Alicia home safely with her family.”
As reports of an unidentified body found outside of Great Bend swirled late Tuesday evening, an impromptu prayer vigil was held at the Clayton L. Moses Memorial Band Shell in downtown Great Bend, an event attended by over 70 Great Bend High School students, family members and family friends. The word of the vigil spread via cell phone calls, text messages and social networking sites, and people continued to arrive as it got under way.
Attendees shed tears, shared hugs and held hands. Organizer Crystal Brown read Biblical scriptures. “Let’s try to keep our thoughts open and positive,” she said.
There have been negative comments made about the case on various websites. But, “do not judge Alicia. Do not judge the other person involved.”
She also asked those present not to attack Alicia’s mother. And, “don’t be mad at your parents for telling you ‘no.’”
Brown and Kristi Dewitt, also organized a prayer vigil and prayer chain for 8 p.m. Sunday at Jack Kilby Square in downtown Great Bend. Local pastors will offer remarks and participants are encouraged to bring a candle to light in her honor. Law enforcement is also invited. This will go on as planned, Brown said.
Alicia is described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 115 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes. She was wearing blue jeans shorts, a white T-shirt with the word “Haters” on it over a teal tank top, and white high-top sneakers with neon colors on the sides. She was seen leaving in a newer model small black sport-utility vehicle.
Despite the fact she left her house with someone, Akings said they are only looking for one person at this time. He couldn’t elaborate on that any more.
She would have started as a freshman at Great Bend High School. She was a cheerleader and missed a GBHS Panther Booster Club dinner Sunday night, an event that was very important to her, Holly said.
Anyone with information is urged to call 1-800-KS-CRIME, the GBPD at 620-793-4120, 911, or Crime Stoppers at 620-792-1300 or 888-305-1300.