FBI arrives in Kotzebue to aid search for girl, 10
Federal agents are now helping in the search for a 10-year-old girl missing since last week in Kotzebue, as locals hope that she is found safe.
Ashley Johnson-Barr was last seen leaving Kotzebue’s Rainbow Park at about 6 p.m. Thursday. Search crews have found only her cellphone. Since then, increasing search assets have been called to this Northwest Alaska community to bolster efforts.
On Tuesday, the FBI joined search personnel that already included Alaska State Troopers, and K-9 dog teams from Wasilla and Anchorage.
"The FBI coming in, they have folks who are trained in cases where a juvenile has gone missing," said Lt. David Hanson of the Alaska State Troopers. "Having them up here has been a huge benefit to us because they can take their expertise and allow the local law enforcement to take care of the leads they need to follow while the FBI does what they're good at."
Residents from around the region, including Noatak and Utqiagvik, have offered assistance.
"That's a community of love," said Ashley's father, Scotty Barr. "It shows how much they do care because everyone else in this community has a child, have children of their own. If any of their children were in this situation, we'd be doing the same thing."
Meanwhile, another team of volunteers ensured search teams were well fed. Kitchen crews prepared caribous roast and sandwiches to serve the growing number of volunteers.
"It's important for me to help our community, our family and friends," said Vera Norton, a board member with Arctic Circle Search & Rescue. "One day they'll look for you or your family."
Searchers were slated to begin Tuesday's efforts at 10 a.m. Most of the areas have already been checked but volunteers are still thoroughly searching by using an app called "My Tracks" which logs exactly where each of them have looked.
As of late-Tuesday afternoon, two K-9 dog teams were added to the crew along with nine Alaska State Troopers, three Kotzebue police officers and 15 FBI agents.
German Shepherd Taiya and Border Collie Taku are trained in multiple search and rescue techniques.
Dog teams from the Mat-Su Valley have also looked around the Kotzebue area over the weekend.
The Northwest Arctic Borough’s Facebook page issued another call for volunteers Monday night.
“The search is still very much active, and all available resources are being utilized,” borough officials wrote. “Tonight, please continue to keep Ashley, her family, and her loved ones in your thoughts and prayers. With everyone’s effort, she will be returned to her family.”
Anyone who sees Johnson-Barr should call Kotzebue police at 907-442-3351 or borough Search and Rescue at 907-412-2038.
Heather Hintze contributed information to this story.
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