(WMC-TV) – Investigators in Lawrence County, Arkansas searched with dogs all over the area where Sidney Randall disappeared and her stepdad was found dead Monday afternoon. Crews are also searching in abandoned houses.
The 14-year-old seems to have literally vanished without a trace in a case that becomes more bizarre by the hour.
More than 100 friends, family, and concerned residents gathered at Walnut Ridge High School for a balloon launch in the fifth day of searching for Randall. The teen is described as bubbly and she has been in beauty pageants since the age of two.
"She was a sweet, caring person, but she was keeping something," her brother Ben Randall said. "She never did tell anybody but she was keeping something from everybody."
Sidney Randall's father and his live-in partner said they suspected the teenager's stepfather John Cornell had been molesting her.
"She told one of her friends John slugged her in the mouth," Sidney's father Victor Randall said. "She was scared of him."
Victor says Cornell seemed to make sure Sidney was with him when he left the home.
"She said she was going to tell," he said.
Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson said that allegations have been made that Cornell might have been abusing Sidney, but that they cannot prove it.
Investigators say Sidney Randall was last seen in her room Saturday night. It is a room filled with photos of her and awards she has won in beauty contests.
Her mother woke up around 3:30 a.m. and could not find Sidney nor her husband. John Cornell returned home around 5:30 in the morning and his wife called 911 when she did not see Sidney.
Cornell left and was discovered Monday with what investigators say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was about 200 yards from his truck but the sheriff says there is no evidence Sidney was in that area.
The sheriff said Cornell went on a spending spree after getting his tax return, buying things like computers, the gun he used to kill himself, and smaller items. The sheriff says Cornell did have a lot of cash on him.
The Arkansas State Police have the computers John Cornell recently purchased looking for any evidence there. The Lawrence County sheriff said he and the many agencies from around the area will search for Sidney Randall until they find her but right now they have no evidence to indicate what may have happened to her.