An estimated 300 volunteers showed up to help in the search for a missing Escondido girl Saturday, private investigator Bill Garcia said. The 14-year-old was last seen walking to Escondido High School on Friday, February 13.
Volunteers signed in, teams were formed, and areas to be searched divided among them.
“Take plenty of fliers,” Garcia told the volunteers. “I believe we still have a lot. Share them with residents you run into.”
Some of the volunteers don't know Amber, but said they had to do something to help. “I have three daughters myself, and I can't imagine what those parents are going through. I would want the same,” Mary Schmit said
“It's right in our own backyard. Just knowing something could happen to anybody, anytime,” Raquel Suitts said.
Amber's father appreciates the support. “It's touching, it really is, when you see a community come out,” Maurice Dubois said.
He explained why he could not take part in this particular effort to find his daughter, not wanting his worst fears realized. “As far as me doing the search, I don't think I could, just because of the fact that I can't look for a body, I can't,” he said.
Searchers said they understood, and want him to know they will do all they can to bring his daughter back home.
Areas being searched include:
- El Norte Parkway
- Interstate-15 east to Lake Wohlford
- North to Palomar Mountain
- West along state Route 76 to Riverside County
The mother of Brittany Hart is also showing her support to the family. Karen Hart's 24-year-old daughter Brittany disappeared in 2007. Brittany's body was found in a rural area of East County. The man accused of killing her is heading to trial for the murder.
Meantime, more than 200 people came out in support of the family Friday evening. People held candles outside the school in hopes Amber would be brought safely home. Read article here
"Basically, it kind of hits home because I know how I'd feel if I'd lost a child," said Escondido resident Amy Clark.
"It's not just the county, the word is spreading across the country and everyone is praying for her and her family," said family friend Joe Peters.
Amber's parents are grateful for the large turnout and support they've gotten since Amber disappeared.
"A lot of people loved Amber and they still do, they want her home," said her mother Carrie McGonigle. Carrie says she last saw her daughter before she headed to school. "Someone has her, she's not just hiding from me or hiding from the house, someone has her".
The possibility of abduction scares everyone, especially parents.
"My mom doesn't even let me walk around the streets anymore, she's afraid it'll happen to me," said Amber's friend Taylor Doyle.
Amber's father believes his daughter is still alive and he vows to never stop searching for her.
"I sleep an hour or two a night, and last night I don't even know if I got that," said Maurice Dubois.
If, by chance, Amber did runaway, Carrie McGonigle has this message for her daughter.
"Just come home, you won't be in trouble, just come home," McGonigle said.
The family is offering a $500 dollar reward for any information about her whereabouts. Her father says the reward money will go up as more donations come in.