A 7-year-old girl mysteriously vanished from her Texas bedroom after she got into an argument with her stepmother and has been missing for two days.
Athena Strand was last seen in her Paradise home Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., an Amber Alert states. The city lies approximately 40 miles northwest of Fort Worth.
“We know that there was a little bit of an argument between her and her step-mom last night but it isn’t anything unusual,” Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin told NBC 5. “There was that argument, then step-mom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room.”
The stepmother searched for Athena for about an hour before she reported the young girl missing, Akin said.
Police theorize she left the home on her own but may have gotten lost. Officials waited to release an Amber Alert until Thursday morning because her family told police that Athena had done this before and officials hoped they would find her in the night, WFAA reported.
Athena’s family, however, told police the girl is afraid of the dark and were unsure she would willingly leave the home alone.
“We definitely don’t believe Athena ran off,” Keeland Kulbeth, Athena’s aunt and sister to Athena’s mom, told NBC 5.
Police are also looking into criminality and kidnapping possibilities.
Athena’s disappearance sparked intense search efforts. About 200 citizens joined various Texas departments to comb an estimated 50 acres in Paradise. The response was so overwhelming that the Wise County Office of Emergency Management department asked volunteers to stop showing up to search parties.
The search continued through Friday. During the night searches, helicopters used thermal imaging to catch signs of Athena, Akin said.
“We’re not going to give up. We’re going to keep working,” said Akin.
Athena’s family describes her as a kind and sweet little girl.
“She’s a very loving, friendly kid, loves people, loves animals, loves flowers, she’s a very girly girl,” Kulbeth told NBC 5.
“I’m scared and I’m hoping that we find her ’cause I wouldn’t want anyone to be in this right now.”
Athena was last seen wearing a gray long-sleeve shirt with white flowers, blue jeans with white flowers on the pockets, and brown boots, Amber Alerts advise. She has pierced ears, but wasn’t wearing earrings at the time of her disappearance. She also has two red birthmarks on her lower back.
Anyone with information on Athena’s disappearance or location is asked to call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971.
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