Hundreds of volunteers combed Spokane neighborhoods Wednesday in a search for a third-grade girl last seen walking to school for her last day of class.
Rachel Johanna Carver, 9, never arrived at Ridgeview Elementary School in northwest Spokane. She was last seen by her uncle, Jason Wickenhagen, about 8:30 a.m.
He walked Rachel halfway to the school from their home in the 4900 block of North Ash.
Police had no leads in Rachel’s disappearance late Wednesday. Bloodhounds traced her scent until it ended near the school. Police put together a massive search for her by Wednesday evening because she has no history of running away and was missing all day.
“That’s a very unusual time period for a 9-year-old to be missing,” Spokane police Lt. Jim Nicks said.
The missing girl’s aunt, Rene Wickenhagen, said she and her husband did not know Rachel failed to show up at school. They became worried only after she didn’t come home after classes ended about 11:15 a.m., she said.
Hugh Davis, a Spokane School District spokesman, said the district’s policy is to notify families when a child doesn’t arrive at school.
But the policy isn’t always followed on the last day of classes, he said.
Rene Wickenhagen described the missing girl as very cute and a “very people person.”
“She likes to wander,” Wickenhagen said Wednesday evening. “Maybe she’s out wandering.” Police said they had no leads in her disappearance late Wednesday.
Rachel has lived with the Wickenhagens since last October, Rene Wickenhagen said.
Her mother, who lives in California, told police she hadn’t heard from her daughter. The mother now plans to drive to Spokane.
Police called Rachel’s father, Scott Carver of Yakima. He also said he hadn’t heard from Rachel and had been in Moses Lake during the day.
Floyd Burchett, Rachel’s great-uncle, said the missing girl and her older sister have lived with the Wickenhagens because of family troubles in California.
He said he didn’t know the nature of the problems. Rachel’s mother has remarried.
The Wickenhagens are Rachel’s legal guardians, said Dick Cottam, a police spokesman.
Rachel has green or hazel eyes, dark red hair, stands about 4-foot-3, and was dressed in a short jumper that was white on top and had a flowery bottom.
She wore purple socks, white sandals, a purple sweat-shirt jacket and may have carried a backpack.
The hunt for Rachel or clues to her disappearance continued into the night.
At least 250 volunteers knocked on doors in northwest neighborhoods. Some took fliers to shops, movie theaters and other businesses.
As night fell, a helicopter circled the sky over Spokane. By 11 p.m., the volunteers were called off the search.
They’ll begin looking for the girl again today at 7 a.m.
Detectives set up a search command post at the school Wednesday. Volunteers distributed fliers with a photo of a smiling Rachel in a class picture.
Police volunteers were called in at about 5 p.m. Earlier, family members, teachers and police tried to find Rachel.
Dennis Nelson, a teacher at the school, said he’d driven around the neighborhood, called students who knew Rachel and stopped at the Garland Theater to look for her.
“I’m standing here feeling as helpless as anybody,” he said.
Several two-person teams went from home to home asking residents for information and looking around their yards.
Alan McNamara, a Spokane police reserve officer for nearly three years, said he’d never been on such a large-scale search. He and another reserve officer searched for clues along Ash.
“We’re hoping she’s somewhere she shouldn’t be, but that she’s safe.”
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