Local News

Search Continues for Brittany Locklear's Killer

Posted January 9, 1998 12:00 a.m. EST

— Authorities were mum Friday about the progress of their investigation of the death of 5-year-old Brittany Lynn Locklear, whose unclothed body was found in a drainage ditch just miles from where she was abducted Wednesday while waiting 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 left his office before noon. He also has declined to say how the girl was killed or whether she was sexually molested.

``If I had a daughter or a small child, I would keep her very close right now, 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 lives in Pembroke and has had little contact with his daughter since her birth, is not the focus of the investigation, according to 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 have said Brittany was snatched by a man in brown pickup truck that had 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.

More than 500 officers, firefighters, concerned friends and Fort Bragg soldiers turned out Thursday to look for Brittany. Sheriff Byrd says nearly 1,000 more people had contacted his office to volunteer to help.

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

Elizabeth Craven, a friend of Brittany's family, spoke with WRAL Thursday 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 Hoke Elementary, where she was enrolled in kindergarten. Some other students witnessed the abduction. Johnson told WRAL's Mark Roberts what she saw.

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.

Family members waited and prayed for Brittany's safety Thursday while the search continued. They learned through a minister that Brittany was dead and filtered outside to find their own private space to grieve.

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

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

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

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

``We just kept thinking about that little girl and how we hoped we'd find something that might help,'' she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reporter:Mark Robertsand Wisdom Martin

,Brian Shrader, andJohn Conway