Alabama authorities have raised the reward for information pertaining to the whereabouts of a three-year-old girl who was abducted from a birthday party last week.
The Birmingham Police Department said on Facebook that Crime Stoppers was offering a $20,000 reward for information related to Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney’s whereabouts.
Police Chief Patrick Smith made a public plea for Cupcake’s return on Wednesday, asking that she be returned and not placed in any ‘unnecessary harm.’
‘If you know where Kamille is, if you have her and you’re not sure what to do, I want to just talk to you for one second,’ Smith said during the conference.
‘I want to give you safe passage. Please bring her to one of our fire stations, police stations, a hospital. If you don’t know what to do or where to go and you’re frightened, we’re here to help you.
‘Our goal is to reunite this 3-year-old baby with her family. I’m asking you now, if you know where Kamille is, that you contact us, that you please bring her to a safe location and we will follow up from there.’
Police looking for a kidnapped three-year-old Alabama girl swarmed around a Birmingham residential area Wednesday a few miles from where she was last seen.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had confirmed to CBS 42 Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney had been found, but the Birmingham Police Department minutes later said this was wrong, and they were still searching for the toddler.
Sheriff Mark Pettway later told CBS 42 he was given incorrect information from his deputies about her being found.
Late Wednesday morning, officers acting on a tip from a bounty hunter set up a perimeter along the 2700 block of Jefferson Avenue and conducted a scoured the area in search of Kamille.
But the search, conducted less than 10 miles from where Kamille was last seen, didn’t turn up signs of the girl even though officers looked through every apartment and car in the area, said Sgt. Johnny Williams, a police spokesman.
After three hours, Williams formally announced that Kamille has not been located and that officers were leaving that location.
‘We understand there was some stuff on social media and other platforms saying she has been located but she has not been located,’ Williams told reporters.
Williams explained that police received a tip they thought to be credible concerning Kamille’s possible presence at the housing complex on Jefferson Avenue, but that turned out not to be the case.
‘We’ve exhausted that location,’ he said. ‘We’ve searched every unit and every vehicle within that complex. We haven’t located anything or any suspects or any evidence.’
The police spokesman addressed the conflicting accounts related to the outcome of the search, attributing the confusion to ‘misinformation.’
‘There was another young lady at that complex that was approximately the same size that was not [Kamille],’ Williams said.
Despite the setback, the police sergeant expressed commitment to finding the missing girl.
‘We know everyone is concerned about her well-being,’ he said. ‘We’re going to keep searching and we are not going to give up and this community is not going to give up on her.’
Williams appealed to the public for any information that might be relevant and urged people to phone in tips and leads.
‘Don’t give up on her,’ he implored. ‘We haven’t given up on her and we’re going to locate her.’
Live video from news outlets showed police blocking off a street and the sound of a law enforcement helicopter overhead. News video also showed officers in helmets and other tactical gear entering an apartment building. People who appeared to be residents milled around the entrance as the officers walked by.
The child’s family members, including her parents and grandmother, were seen arriving on the scene of Wednesday’s search. They were later spotted leaving.
‘I’m afraid this is a false lead, and she’s really been taken somewhere else across town,’ the girl’s grandmother Lekisha Simpson told WEAR-TV.
Kamille was snatched and pulled into a dark SUV from outside a public housing community in Birmingham on Saturday at around 8.30pm.
Investigators have since located the SUV and arrested two people on unrelated charges to the kidnapping of the little girl everyone calls Cupcake.
Patrick Devone Stallworth, 39, of Birmingham was charged with four counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of possession with child pornography with intent to distribute.
Police Chief Patrick Smith said in a statement Tuesday night that pornography was found on Stallworth’s cellphone. He’s being held on a $500,000 bond.
Derrick Irisha Brown, 29, also of Birmingham, is being held on a probation revocation with no bond for an unrelated kidnapping, Smith said.
But the mystery remained Wednesday: What happened to Cupcake?
Officials announced rewards totaling $6,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the child’s disappearance, and police expanded an amber alert to neighboring states, seeking information about the girl.
Smith issued a public appeal for tips Tuesday, saying people who were around when the abduction occurred may have seen something important or even captured video of what happened.
‘We know that a lot of people were out there at this party,’ he said, adding that other events were going on in the area.
While police said ‘exhaustive’ searches hadn’t put officers any closer to locating the child, her father said he was holding out hope.
‘I’ve got faith that we’re going to find Cupcake, and that Cupcake is going to come home safely,’ Dominic McKinney, 27, told reporters.
Authorities said the girl was with her mother at a birthday party in a housing project near downtown Birmingham when she was kidnapped. Other children said someone got out of an SUV, grabbed the girl and drove away, police said.
Authorities have said there was no indication the abduction involved a custody dispute between parents, but relatives didn’t immediately report what happened, said Smith.
‘Families think that they can resolve their issues on their own. They think they can do just a quick search of the neighborhood or the area to find a missing person or a missing child, and there was a little bit of a delay in getting the information to law enforcement,’ Smith told a news conference Monday.
Once an alert was issued, a tip led officers to an apartment where the vehicle sought by police was parked just a few miles from where the child was last seen.
Stallworth and Brown were arrested Sunday as persons of interest in Cupcake’s kidnapping. Police were unable to gather pertinent information on the location of the girl but enough evidence was obtained to allow warrants for the pair.
Officers have gone door-to-door through the housing project passing out fliers with the girl’s photograph, and her father said he was looked for her on his own.
‘I mean she’s three, man. She’s innocent. I just want my baby back at the end of the day like anybody else would,’ McKinney said to WBRC.
‘I just want my daughter back. I’ll pay anything, I’ll put up anything,’ he said.
‘Everybody knows Cupcake and I’ll do anything to bring that baby back home.
‘She’s scared, she’s lonely, she doesn’t know what’s going on. She’s just a baby. Whatever the situation is, whatever they’ve got going on, it don’t concern her.’
McKinney has his daughter’s nickname tattooed on his arm along with a picture of a cupcake.
Although cops haven’t found an immediate connection to the persons of interest currently in custody to Kamille’s family – her father says she wouldn’t get into a car with a stranger.
‘She’s just a pretty little girl with the prettiest eyes. She ain’t the girl that’s going to get in the car with just anybody,’ he said.
The Amber Alert for Kamille says she is three feet tall and weighs 60 pounds.
At the time she was taken, Kamille was wearing a pink Minnie Mouse T-shirt and had yellow, white and blue bows in her hair.
Birmingham Deputy Chief Scott Praytor said investigators were asking any homes or businesses in the Avondale area near the Tom Brown Village public housing complex to share surveillance camera footage with police.
Praytor said there was no indication the kidnapping is an issue over child custody.
Anyone with information should call the Birmingham Police Department tipline at 205-297-8413 or Crime Stoppers at 205-254-7777
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Matthew Wright, Marlene Lenthang and Snejana Farberov