The alarm sounded around 9:15 on a hot and humid Thursday morning: a child had been abducted in the Panola Mountain State Conservation Park area. Pushing everything aside, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Georgia State Patrol and seven other state agencies answered the call at the request of the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, knowing that each minute, each second counts when a child goes missing.
But what happens when someone goes missing? What steps and actions do law enforcement take to increase the chances of finding an abducted child and finding that child quickly?
In this case, the GBI had just received a report that a babysitter had been abducted. The witness was the mother of the child normally in the sitter's care. Soon, other witnesses also called to report the abduction.
Each agency, law enforcement officer, agency employee, and volunteer knew their part as a result of receiving prior training in the Child Abduction Response Team curriculum, otherwise know as C.A.R.T. Now they must put that training into action.
With confidence, they all ran toward the crisis, anxious to bring their expertise to the search. GBI Director Vernon Keenan was on the scene, ready and willing to do what he could. Jacksonville local resident Floy Turner, a retired Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Special Agent and U.S. Southern Region AMBER Alert Liaison, was also there to offer her expertise.
Rockdale County Sheriff's Office brought their large mobile command post that looked very much like an RV, although it had nothing whatsoever to do with recreation. There were no bunk beds and kitchen tables inside, but conference tables and televisions displaying different news stations, all of which presented a somber environment of keeping to the task at hand--finding Breana, the victim.
Agency leaders exited the command post, carrying a large map of the area. They met with their individual team members for briefing and updates in an effort to answer the question that loomed in everyone's mind--where was Breana?
Another report came in that a backpack and shoe were spotted on the side of the road, providing a potentially strong, telltale lead. With a sense of urgency, agents and officers fled to their vehicles and made a convoy to the site that could hopefully provide precious evidence.
And then just a few yards off the side of the road laid an abandoned backpack and lone shoe, peculiar inhabitants amongst the leaves and broken branches that skirted the dense woods.
But did these items belong to the victim?