Search for teen expands throughout Lawrence Co - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Search for teen expands throughout Lawrence Co

Posted: Updated:
Walnut Ridge, Ark., Police Chief Richy Thatcher (Bofta Yimam / FOX13 News) Walnut Ridge, Ark., Police Chief Richy Thatcher (Bofta Yimam / FOX13 News)

Crews looking for missing 14-year-old Sidney Randall expanded  their search into rural parts of Lawrence County. Sidney disappeared Saturday night, then the main suspect, her stepfather was found dead by a creek Monday.

"We've been searching crime scene areas where the body was found yesterday," said Walnut Ridge Police Chief Richy Thatcher. "There's a ditch out there, had our dive team walking the ditch, and boats inside the ditch."

MORE: Morgan Nick Amber Alert issued for Arkansas teen

Walnut Police activated a Level 2 Morgan Nick Amber Alert for Sidney, who was last seen at around 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.

Since her disappearance three days ago, the police department has been flooded with calls on possible Sidney sightings.

Chief Thatcher says Sidney's stepfather, John Cornell  died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was found about 100 yards from his truck outside town. Thatcher says a pistol was found nearby.. Cornell was their only suspect, the police chief added. FOX13 News has learned Cornell returned home at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday and spoke with Sidney's mother.

"Don't know why he showed up she told him Sidney was gone," Chief Thatcher said. "He was in disbelief, he left (immediately). I mean any father would probably ask more questions but they would go looking for their child."

Cornell was a farm laborer, avid fisherman and hunter. While Chief Thatcher says Cornell's familiarity with the territory makes the search more difficult, he says it won't stop their efforts.

"We're not going to give up until we find Sidney," the police chief said, who added that there is no known history of sexual abuse between Sidney and her stepfather.

"From the last we heard Sidney and her stepfather had a pretty decent relationship the last couple of months," Chief Thatcher added.

In his 13 years as police chief, Thatcher said he has never seen a case like this.

Sidney, the middle child of the family, is 5-foor-4 inches in height and weighs 85 pounds. She has green eyes and has just below shoulder length brown hair. She was last seen wearing a brown Aeropostale jacket.

The search for the teenager is closed to volunteers, but police may open up the search if it continues. Private planes, a helicopter, and a search team on ground have been utilized in trying to find Sidney.

Chief Thatcher said his officers have been checking Walnut Ridge stores to see if Sidney and her stepfather were spotted together between 10 p.m. Saturday and 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

If you have any information that can assist Walnut Ridge Police you are urged to call 1-870-886-2525.

Walnut Ridge is 90 miles northwest of Memphis, Tenn.

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