As the Christmas season fast approaches, so does the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Colorado City teen Hailey Dunn, a fact many who have volunteered their time searching for the girl say ties them in knots.
“Every time I look at her picture, it reminds me we have to work that much harder to bring her home,” said Mychelle Rawls, one of hundreds of Big Spring residents who have spent countless hours scouring the Crossroads area for clues to the girl’s disappearance. “You don’t want to think about the fact it’s almost been a year. You don’t want to think about what could have happened since she went missing. You just have to concentrate on the task at hand and that’s bringing her home.”
Dunn has been the focus of a region-wide search since her mother — Billie Dunn — reported her missing to the Colorado City Police Department Dec. 28. The lone “person of interest” in the case, Billie Dunn’s then live-in boyfriend Shawn Adkins, remains the only suspect in the investigation. However, despite executing a number of search warrants — with one allegedly turning up child pornography on a computer
believed to be used by Adkins — no arrest has been made as a result of the case.
Adkins told law enforcement officials he last saw Hailey Dunn on Dec. 27, when she told him she was going to her father’s home nearby and then on to spend the night at a friend’s home. According to investigators, the teen did neither. Billie Dunn said she last saw her daughter at home the night of Dec. 26, nearly two days before she was reported missing. Both Adkins and Billie Dunn have denied having any involvement in the girl’s disappearance.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation recently labeled the case a kidnapping among its online list of “most wanted” crimes.
Since Dec. 28, volunteers from all over West Texas — and even further — have combed the fields and country sides in and around Colorado City. However, according to Rawls, as time continues to pass with no new leads in the case, fewer and fewer searchers have been been turning out to look for signs of the teen.
“There were a lot of people who, in the very beginning, took off from work to help with the search. However, there’s only so long you can do that,” Rawls said. “Over time, the number of volunteers has continued to thin out. However, there are still a few of us who continue to go out and search every chance we have. I have some friends from the Marines who are supposed to be coming soon to help search. This just isn’t something we can let go of.”
Rawls, who continues to deliver missing-person posters to area businesses and encourage other Crossroads residents to volunteer in the effort, said she and other searchers are also trying to raise funds to bring in specialized search teams.
“We’ve been trying to scrape together enough money to pay to bring the cadaver dogs back in,” Rawls said. “They did an initial search near Hailey’s home when the investigation first began and got a few hits, but we’d like to see a more in-depth investigation done.”
Rawls said the lack of information provided by law enforcement officials is a continual source of frustration for her and other volunteers who want desperately to bring Hailey Dunn home.
“When they tell you there aren’t any new leads, you really don’t know what to think,” Rawls said. “You try not to think the worst, that they have given up on trying to find her, but that gets harder with each day she’s missing.”
Hailey Dunn has light brown hair, green eyes, stands 5 feet and weighs approximately 115 pounds. According to information provided by Hope for Hailey, a non-profit group currently assisting in the search, the girl has a scar on the right side of her forehead and right side of her lip. She was last seen wearing dark blue sweat pants, a light-colored T-shirt and flip-flops.
Anyone with information concerning the girl’s whereabouts or circumstances concerning her disappearance are asked to call authorities at 325-728-5294 or 325-728-3161. A reward of $15,000 is being offered for information in the case.
For more information on volunteering or to make a donation to fund ongoing searches, contact Glenda Turner at 325-242-1105 or Kristy Lloyd at 432-213-8204.
“We can’t forget about Hailey,” an emotional Rawls said. “We can’t let West Texas or the rest of the world forget about her. If we have to stand on the mountaintops and shout at the top of our lungs, we will. We have to bring that little girl home.”
Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org