UPDATE: LaFayette "abduction" leaves questions - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: LaFayette "abduction" leaves questions

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The water meter hole were the young girl was found Sunday afternoon. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com The water meter hole were the young girl was found Sunday afternoon. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com

UPDATE: LaFayette police said Monday there's no credible threat to the community after a reported abduction Sunday afternoon. Police confirm that as a result of the little girl's interview, the state has removed her and her two siblings from their grandparent's custody.

Police Chief Bengie Clift said a 9-year-old girl went missing from her grandparents' Town Creek Apartments on Cooper Street Sunday around 3 p.m. Neighbors found the girl "alert and scared" on the apartment's property in a 3-foot deep hole. Chief Clift described the hole as an old water meter hole with a cover and lined with bricks.

The girl told the two rescuing bystanders a man had come up from behind her, grabbed her, and put her in the hole. They called police.

Jeffrey Williams heard frantic yells from his backyard Sunday afternoon as neighbors searched for the missing girl. In the woods behind his home is where the little girl was screaming and pushing a lid to get out of a small manhole.

Williams revisited the scene Monday with Channel 3. "[The lid] is about 50-75 pounds. No, there's no way a little girl could lift that up," he said.

"Putting the lid on her would be possible but if the lid was closed, she couldn't open it and get in it. She wouldn't be able to open it on her own, no. It's too heavy," said Chief Clift.

Based on information the girl gave police, the chief initiated a search for a male suspect that ultimately turned up nothing.

Chief Clift said a physical exam testing for sexual assault on the girl also turned up negative. And the GBI was in town to interview the girl Monday morning. The chief said based on the interview, there's no "credible threat to the community" and "no active search for a suspect."

"We have to trust what she's telling us," Chief Clift said early Monday before the GBI interviewed the girl. "It doesn't have the normal parameters of a kidnapping where they would take the kid and leave the area."

"A lot of unanswered questions. The WHY is always the tough part when you don't have the other end of it," Chief Clift said.

Chief Clift said the girl was missing for 20 minutes after she never returned from taking out the trash. Neighbors said she was found in a hole about 250 feet away from the trash area.

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