SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT BELIEVES GIRL ABDUCTED; MAN QUESTIONED

News Tribune

Published: 07-07-96

Category: Local/State

Page: B1

Keywords: Crime, Kidnap, Missing, Child/Children, Search

Image: COLOR PHOTO / Russ Carmack/The News Tribune: Dorothy Wheeler, a neighbor of Cindy Allinger, helps in the search by handing out fliers near the girl's Lakewood apartment.

COLOR PHOTO: Cindy Allinger

Byline: Russell Working; The News Tribune ; Cheryl Reid

As the FBI joined the search for a missing Lakewood girl, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said Saturday it assumes that Cindy Allinger was abducted.

Deputies late Saturday were talking with "a person of interest" in the case.

Because a widespread search has turned up no sign of the 9-year-old, officials doubt she simply got lost when she disappeared Thursday evening, said sheriff's Capt. Nik Dunbar.

"We are assuming she is no longer missing," Dunbar said. "If that were the case, she would've been found. We are assuming there is an abduction that has taken place."

The FBI is helping to draw up a psychological profile of anyone who would commit such a crime, Dunbar said. And the FBI has broad resources to draw on in kidnapping cases.

"Any time when you think the child or suspect has left the state, they can be very helpful," Dunbar said, though he added there is no evidence now that Cindy has left the state.

The search area will broaden today, Dunbar said, "not because we have any new leads. We've just done all that we can in the immediate area.''

Deputies late Saturday were interviewing a 30-year-old former neighbor whom they described as a "person of interest" in the case. They found him at a music festival south of Olympia and were bringing him back to Pierce County.

The man was not under arrest.

He had moved out of the girl's neighborhood two weeks ago, Dunbar said.

Cindy had been told to stay away from the man, a drummer, though she might have visited anyway, neighbors have said.

Dunbar said one neighbor reported seeing Cindy with the man on the day she disappeared, but deputies have not been able to confirm that.

Nearly 70 volunteers fanned out in neighborhoods around her house for a second day Saturday, handing out fliers and looking for signs of her. A Pierce County Explorer Search and Rescue unit went door to door, peering behind fences and under bushes.

Rhonda Plank, Cindy Allinger's mother, reported last seeing the girl at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday at their apartment near McChord Air Force Base. Since then, friends have been dropping by to offer support, and even strangers have been handing out fliers.

"I'm really worried," Plank said Saturday. "As the days go by, you start to lose hope. I try not to lose hope."

Law officials received a tip Friday that Cindy was playing in front of her apartment and got into a blue van several hours after she was last reported seen by her mother. But Dunbar said Saturday that may have been another child.

``We are getting tips,'' he said. ``We just keep hoping the next one is the one that will clear this all up.''

Dunbar said deputies will ``bring in a fresh crew of investigators who haven't been involved to check on our work and see if we've missed anything'' today.

Deputies brought in bloodhounds and German shepherds to search for Cindy. German shepherds, often used for sniffing out drugs, are trained to smell odors hanging in the air, while bloodhounds are used for tracking after whiffing an article of a person's clothing.

"We're going back to some of the areas that the dogs worked but people were not able to get to because of the brush," Dunbar said. "We're cutting down the brush."

Joe Brentin, an Explorer Scout team leader, led a group through the narrow streets among the apartment buildings that crowd the area. He said his group was not finding much.

"I came home yesterday, and my mom and dad were asking me all kinds of stuff they heard on the news," he said. "I hadn't heard any of it."

Sharon Harvey, who lives a few blocks from Plank's apartment, said the disappearance made her uneasy.

"It's too close to home," she said.

Plank said she can't understand why her daughter has disappeared.

"She hasn't done anything to anybody," she said. "I have no enemies."

Staff writer Cheryl Reid contributed to this report.