Local News

Mother frustrated over slowed search for girl

Posted March 31, 2009 3:56 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2009 6:39 p.m. EDT

— The mother of a 6-year-old girl who has been missing for the last week said Tuesday she is frustrated that authorities have suspended the search indefinitely.

"It's very tough. I mean, I feel very empty," Sharonda McNeill said.

McNeill's daughter, Ca'zhia McMillian, was playing with a friend on the banks of the Lower Little River last Tuesday afternoon when she apparently fell into the water. The first-grader at Anderson Creek Primary School hasn't been seen since then.

Authorities searched a 5-mile stretch of the river for four days, using tracking dogs along the banks, sonar to scan under the water and helicopters for an aerial view.

They suspended the search over the weekend after heavy rains caused river levels to rise, making it unsafe for rescue workers. Crews dispatched early Monday and Tuesday to evaluate the river said the depth of the water and the speed of the current would make any search effort treacherous.

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office said authorities plan to continue evaluating the river level daily to determine when it is safe enough to resume the search. Dive and rescue teams from across the state have volunteered to help in the search.

McNeill said authorities should continue an aerial search or checking the riverbanks while waiting for the river level to drop.

"I appreciate everything they're doing and everything, but they're not working hard enough. I need more people," she said. "They need to start back searching for her. I'm not giving up, and they shouldn't give up."

Authorities have blocked off the area along the bank where Ca'zhia's friend said she fell in, and Maj. Gary McNeill of the Harnett County Sheriff's Office said investigators have interviewed the girl several times to double-check her story.

Gary McNeill, no relation to Sharonda McNeill, said investigators are confident Ca'zhia fell in where the girl said and wasn't abducted.

Ca'zhia's family said they aren't sure what happened to her, and they just want answers.

"If you have found no evidence, did she get abducted? I mean, put out an Amber Alert, put out fliers," Sharonda McNeill said. "If you got her, bring her back to me because I need her."