As the search continues for 8-year-old Hiawayi Robinson, FBI officials said today they believe she may have been taken across state lines, given the amount of time that has passed since she was reported missing on Tuesday.
FBI officials said they are currently searching for a person of interest but indicated that it does not mean the person has been named responsible for the girl’s disappearance at this time.
“I’d like to report to you this morning that we have a unified law enforcement team committed to finding Hiawayi,” Christopher Hacker, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI in Mobile, said. “That’s our number one goal. A lot of agents and police officers involved in this are parents, and we’re looking for her like she’s our very own daughter.”
The FBI has called in numerous resources to supplement local and state law enforcement including its behavioral analysis unit, child abduction and evidence response teams and other critical resources, Hacker said.
“These teams have extensive experience in dealing and working with these types of investigations. With that being said, that’s not enough,“ Hacker said. “The bottom line is we need the public’s help. That’s the bottom line.”
Hacker said the FBI needs someone with any information to call the FBI at 1-800-CALLFBI. He said this information could come in many forms like video from an iPhone, information you heard from someone or something you saw from someone.
“I’m confident there’s somebody out there somewhere who knows two things. What happened to her and where is she?” he said. “That’s what we need … someone out there, I’m asking you please to have the courage to pick up the phone and call and give us some information so we can bring Hiawayi home safely.
According to the Prichard Police Department, Hiawayi was last seen wearing a green and white Hello Kitty shirt and purple shorts around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at St. Stephens Woods Apartments.
While the FBI has taken one of the lead roles in the operation, Prichard Police Chief Michael Rowland said Prichard police have also partnered with the U.S. Marshals Service, Alabama State Troopers, Alabama Bureau of Investigation investigators, the sheriff department, KlaasKids and other local agencies in the search for Hiawayi.
“Without these partnerships, we don’t have the resources to carry out an investigation like this,” he said. “ With these partnerships, we’re able to actually expand our abilities to go where we need to, to make sure that we bring this young lady back home safely. And that is the key, bringing her home safely.”
Family members and volunteers also gathered together Tuesday morning to continue their search efforts for Hiawayi.
“If anybody knows anything, please let us know because all I want is Hiawayi back home,” Hiawayi’s grandmother Murleen Howard said. “I love her. I miss her, and I am about to go insane because I do not where she is. If she was anywhere where a phone was, she would call me, and I know that.”
Hiawayi’s father, Hiawatha Robinson, said he found out his daughter was missing when he received a call from his mother around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday night.
“That was the last call I got … I never did see her that day,” he said. “I never told her I was going to meet her.”
Robinson said he was going to search for his daughter until he “beat the soles” off his shoes.
“Until I find her … that’s what I plan on doing,” he said.