Local News

More Than 300 Search for Missing Hoke County Girl

Posted January 7, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— Hoke County authorities, including some 300 officers, firefighters, concerned friends and Fort Bragg soldier, are continuing to search for a missing 5-year-old girl, who witnesses say was kidnapped Wednesday morning while waiting in her driveway for the school bus.

Brittany Lynn Locklear disappeared about 7 a.m. from her home just south of Raeford. The Hoke County Sheriff's Department says that the girl was snatched into a brown pickup truck with a rack of overhead lights.

Brittany's mother, Connie Chavis, said she had been watching her daughter from inside her home as the child waited at a bus stop about 200 yards away. Just after 7 a.m., Chavis said she went to the bathroom. When she returned, Brittany was gone.

The disappearance has other parents very concerned for the welfare of their own children. Keith Butler says his children will be watching for the bus from inside their home.

Crystal Johnson, the cousin of the missing child, plans to be extra careful herself. Johnson is afraid the same thing that happened to Brittany could happen to her.

Wednesday night, search dogs found Brittany's backpack, along with a pair of overalls and two shoes, in a wooded area on Ryan McBride Road, about three miles away from her home. Thursday, search crews discovered another piece of clothing, but they have yet to confirm it belongs to the 3-foot-tall, 35-pound girl.

Thursday morning, authorities began conducting a road check near the abduction scene. Sgt. Patrick Brock says they are looking for anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious the morning Brittany was kidnapped.

Officers searched on land and from the air Wednesday. A Highway Patrol chopper, equipped with infrared technology, took to the air, However, windy weather forced an end to the air search.

The girl was waiting for the school bus to take her to West Hoke Elementary, where she is enrolled in kindergarten. Some other students witnessed the abduction. Johnson told WRAL's Mark Roberts what she saw.

Chavis, Brittany's mother, was interviewed by the sheriff's department. She had a message for the person who took her daughter.

"You take care of my kid," said a tearful Chavis. "Bring her home. I want my baby home."

Hoke County Sheriff Wayne Byrd told WRAL that he believes that the kidnapping was not a domestic situation. The child's father, who lives in Pembroke, has been interviewed and "checks out." Byrd said that the evidence indicates that a stranger took Brittany.

Deputies say that several children witnessed the kidnapping from down the street. The children gave authorities as much information as they could, saying that a white male jumped out of the truck, grabbed Brittany, took her back into the truck and sped off, heading away from them. Officers were also searching in surrounding counties.

Sheriff Byrd said Thursday he is trying to stay optimistic about the search until he has reason to feel otherwise.

If you have any information about Brittany's whereabouts, call the Hoke County Sheriff's Department at1-800-842-9111. You may also phone tips to a special line installed at Brittany's. That number is 910-875-4895.

Reporter:Mark Robertsand Wisdom Martin andJohn Cox

andBrian Shrader