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Time of uncertainty: When a little girl goes missing

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Time of uncertainty: When a little girl goes missing

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 1:27

Time of uncertainty: When a little girl goes missing

DENVER, Colorado - As the search for Kayleah Wilson continues, one Colorado family knows how painful this time of uncertainty can be.

It has been 17 years since 5-year-old Alie Berrelez was abducted and murdered.

Each time a Colorado child goes missing, Alie's grandfather, Richard Berrelez, is reminded of those four days in May 1993, when Alie was nowhere to be found.

"It's really hard because you tend to think the worst," Berrelez said.

The worst did happen to little Alie.

Someone killed her and stuffed her body inside of a khaki duffel bag.

Investigators say her abductor threw her body down a 20-foot embankment in Deer Creek Canyon.

"When a family goes through this kind of thing, you deal with it the rest of your life," Berrelez said.

Alie would be 22 years old today.

"To this day, no one has been arrested or charged for the crime," Berrelez said.

Alie's body was found by a search and rescue bloodhound.

After her death, Berrelez started the Alie Foundation, a nonprofit that places bloodhounds with police departments around the country.

The program also educates kids and parents about childhood abduction.

"You cannot believe there is a person out there that can take your child," Berrelez said.

As the search for Kayleah continues, Berrelez has some advice for her family during this time of uncertainty: "The mother, April, she really shouldn't focus too much on one issue, because there's a lot of possibilities on what has happened. Hope and pray for the best. Hope that the worst has not happened."

If you would like more information on the Alie Foundation's educational efforts, visit www.alie.org.

ALIE is a 501 (c) (3) non profit foundation educating children and parents concerning child abduction safety issues and providing police search bloodhounds for missing children cases. ALIE, 4675 Andes St, Denver, Colorado 80249 (303) 662-8402

Last edited by Antoinette on Thu 19 Aug - 1:29; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Time of uncertainty: When a little girl goes missing

Post  Guest on Thu 19 Aug - 1:29

On May 18, 1993, police in Englewood, Colorado, searched door-to-door for five-year-old Alie Berrelez. Alie was last seen playing in the courtyard of the apartment complex where she lived. Her baby-sitter had gone inside for a few minutes. By the time she came back, Alie was gone.

Searchers discovered Alie’s remains
The search dragged on for four days without a single clue. Finally, the police turned to an age-old crime-fighting tool: bloodhounds. When it comes to tracking missing persons or criminals, a bloodhound named Yogi is one of the best.

Yogi and his handler, K9 officer Jerry Nichols, went to work. The dog took Alie's scent from clothing she had recently worn, then started moving.

First Yogi went up the stairs, zeroing in on a single apartment. It was Alie's home, and it was a good sign. Yogi was on the right track.

Richard Berrelez, Alie’s grandfather, had high hopes:

“I wanted to have hope that this bloodhound would be able to find our granddaughter. I was watching the dog work, and I felt there was a sort of comfort that I felt, because I felt, ‘Now they're going to find her. Now they’re going to find her and they're going to find her alive.’”

The bloodhound covered 40 city blocks
Yogi led Jerry out of the apartment complex and south down the street. A media crush followed close behind, recording every move. The dog paid no attention at all, which is typical of bloodhounds, according to Jerry:

“He didn't care. He was oblivious to everything other than what he was doing because he's happy doing that. A bloodhound is by instinct a tracker. By nature, it's something they're bred to do and they live to do. Their sense of smell is just incredible. The loose skin around the face acts as a place for the scent to be attracted to, the skin folds. The gels, the slobbering, the moisture that the dog is emitting, will actually help enhance that scent around his face. It's putting the moisture in the air, and those long, dangling, floppy ears, it kind of stirs it up in front of him.”

A scent trail, whether animal or human, comes from thousands of dead skin cells that are constantly being shed. Jerry explains that unless those cells are swept away by severe weather, the scent could remain for up to a month:

“When a dog is introduced to a specific scent to track, he basically focuses on that scent and forgets and ignores the rest. His job is, ‘This is the scent I have to work. This is what I’m going to go with.’”

As the hound followed Alie's scent, Jerry quickly recognized that his canine partner was working a familiar pattern:

“If a person is walking on foot, the scent's a little bit stronger, and they're going to stay by the sidewalk, but he is working wide between the street, in between the fronts of businesses. And he's still picking it up on the fringes. Seeing him do that before, in my mind, he was working a car.”

Unbelievable as it seems, we leave scent trails even from moving cars. The skin cells shoot out through the car's ventilation and exhaust system and are deposited on the side of the road. Jerry says it’s an easy pick up for the nose of a bloodhound:

“We've even done scenarios in training where we'll put a person in a trunk that's sealed up, and they still can pick it up. His world is his nose.”

Yogi was relentless. He tracked south for several miles, covering almost 40 city blocks. At the entrance to a freeway, he headed straight up the westbound ramp.

That was a turning point for Englewood Police Detective Rick Forbes:

“I was very skeptical that dog was doing anything other than going for a walk, but when he took that first ramp to I-470 and did so with so much confidence, then I started to wonder, you know, maybe the dog is really onto something here.”

The search party drove west to the next exit. Jerry wondered if the scent trail would lead the dog further down the freeway or off the exit ramp:

“And sure enough, he kept on working and he went past it. So then we'd load him up, go to the next exit. We did the same scene several times.”

To speed up the search, police skipped the fourth exit and moved on to the fifth. Yogi made it quite clear. They had overshot the mark. The scent was gone. They backtracked to the previous exit. The hound again picked up the scent. But this time, he led the search party off the freeway, toward a wooded area called Deer Creek Canyon.

By now, Yogi had been tracking Alie over city streets, parking lots, and freeways for more than seven hours. He had covered nearly 14 miles. Jerry noticed signs Yogi was tiring:

“He was slowing down a little bit. The tongue was really dragging, and he's really slobbering, and I could tell he was getting hot. A hound has a drive. Unfortunately, they will run themselves to death. If they get tired, they don't care. They don't stop.”

Yogi's strength was failing. Still, he wouldn’t abandon the search. Reluctantly, Jerry made the decision to give Yogi some rest:

“He basically kept looking at me as to, ‘Why are we stopping? I'm not ready to stop. I want to keep going. This is my track. I want to get there.’”

With Yogi sidelined, human volunteers picked up the search. It wasn’t long before they knew why Yogi had refused to quit. The body of Alie Berrelez was less than two miles from the point where the dog had been forced to stop.

Without Yogi’s persistence, Alie's body would never have been discovered. But it was not the result Jerry Nichols had hoped for:

“I think, at first, that didn't sink in, because I was pretty upset at the fact that Alie was found dead. And then over time I realized everything worked just right. These dogs have a purpose in law enforcement. We're out here working for the communities and the citizens. And they really have done some amazing things for us.”

Investigators believe Alie's killer may have lived in her apartment complex or visited someone who lived there.

External Link: The ALIE Foundation, created in honor of Alie

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