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Search Continues for Brittany Locklear's Killer

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The crowd of volunteers and media gather for a press conference at the crime scene.
RAEFORD — Authorities were mum Friday about theprogress of their investigation of the death of 5-year-old BrittanyLynn Locklear, whose unclothed body was found in adrainage ditch just miles from where she was abducted Wednesday whilewaiting for her school bus.

A command post has been set up in a county office building in Raeford,with investigators huddling in the county commissioners' meeting room.

Sheriff Wayne Byrd declined to talk to reporters about the case as he lefthis office before noon. He also has declined to say how the girl waskilled or whether she was sexually molested.

``If I had a daughter or a small child, I would keep her very close rightnow, especially in public,''Byrd said. ``That is what I would advise every parent to do right now.''

He said his department had no suspects yet. The girl's father, who livesin Pembroke and hashad little contact with his daughter since her birth, is not the focus ofthe investigation, accordingto the sheriff.

Brittany's body was found only a few miles from her home and bus stop, where the kindergartner was abducted Wednesday morning. Witnesses havesaid Brittany was snatched by a man in brown pickup truck that had a rackof overhead lights.

Brittany's mother, Connie Chavis, said she had been watching herdaughter from inside her home as the child waited at a bus stop about200 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 oftheir own children. Keith Butler says his children will be watching forthe bus from inside their home.

More than 500 officers, firefighters, concerned friends and Fort Braggsoldiers turned out Thursday to look for Brittany. Sheriff Byrdsays nearly 1,000 more people had contacted his office to volunteerto help.

Brittany's death has left family, friends and the community stunned andconcerned about the safety of children in the area.

Elizabeth Craven, a friend of Brittany's family, spoke with WRALThursday afternoon. She fought back tears as she talked about Brittany,calling her "the sweetest little child you'd ever want to know."

Brittany was waiting for the school bus to take her to West HokeElementary, where she was enrolled in kindergarten. Some other studentswitnessed the abduction. Johnson told WRAL's Mark Roberts what she saw.

Deputies say that several children witnessed the kidnapping from downthe street. The children gave authorities as much information as theycould, 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.

Family members waited and prayed for Brittany's safety Thursday while thesearch continued. They learned through a minister that Brittany was deadand filtered outside to find their ownprivate space to grieve.

``It ain't even gotten started, that little life, and now it's takenaway,'' said Mary Ann Stevens,Brittany's great aunt.

The minister, the Rev. Tony Hunt, said other family members weredevastated.

``They held up hope until the last moment,'' he said.

Melissa Langley of Raeford also held up hope while participating in thevolunteer search.

``We just kept thinking about that little girl and how we hoped we'd findsomething that mighthelp,'' she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reporter:Mark RobertsandWisdom Martin

,BrianShrader, andJohn Conway

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