The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 21, 2013

VIDEO: Search in Golden City leads to discovery of body

GOLDEN CITY, Mo. — The faces of the searchers reflected equal parts shattered hopes, realized fears and a dawning sense of grief as they filtered back into Golden City shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday on horseback and in cars.

A body had been found about a mile northwest of this little prairie town of 760 or so residents. Law enforcement officials cautioned that a positive identification had yet to be made.

But the searchers’ faces seemed to concede: Who else could it be?

Who else but Adriaunna Horton, the object of their search, the 12-year-old with the winning smile who had been missing since 5 p.m. Monday, when she was last seen getting into a vehicle near the town’s park, where she had been playing with other children?

“We still had hope,” said Karla Abeyta, one of the searchers, as she got back to town. “I was praying that she was going to be alive.”

Abeyta, whose boyfriend’s son is a friend of Adriaunna’s father, James Horton, had driven over from Pittsburg, Kan., to help look for the girl. She was one of more than 100 volunteers to join the search on its third day, about 14 of whom rode horses.

After having thoroughly scoured the town on Tuesday, out to a perimeter of a mile or more, with the help of two K-9 units, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the FBI, the Tri-State Major Case Squad, seven sheriff’s departments and five police departments, search coordinators focused their attention west of town on Wednesday.

The volunteers were taken out on Highway 126 and began walking fields to the north on each side of 100th Lane at 11:18 a.m. The body was discovered about 1:50 p.m., according to Sgt. Mike Watson, with the state patrol.

Abeyta said her line of searchers had just crossed over a fence line into another field when word that a body might have been found came over the radios of their handlers and they were ordered to stop. She described it as an awfully demoralizing moment up and down the line of searchers.

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