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Monday, December 22, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 6/16/2013

MISSING ELAINA

Searchers check swath of river for missing girl

BLADE STAFF
From left, Denise Yanez of Oregon, Debbie Russeau of Toledo, Heather Walker of Maumee, Amy Hofner of Bowling Green, and Todd Galpal of Toledo are assigned to a team as Risa Smith, right, coordinates search groups Saturday in East Toledo. From left, Denise Yanez of Oregon, Debbie Russeau of Toledo, Heather Walker of Maumee, Amy Hofner of Bowling Green, and Todd Galpal of Toledo are assigned to a team as Risa Smith, right, coordinates search groups Saturday in East Toledo.
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As the search for missing 18-month-old Elaina Steinfurth crept up on the two-week mark, 80 volunteers Saturday scoured the area along the Maumee River from Perrysburg east to Maumee Bay State Park.

“We’re sending people out five miles and inward,” said organizer Kim Cundick, who has also helped search for Nevaeh Buchanan of Monroe and three brothers from Morenci, Mich.

Justice for Nevaeh, a Michigan nonprofit organization formed after the kidnapping and killing of 5-year-old Nevaeh in 2009, conducted searches Thursday in Rossford, Woodville, and Curtice, Ohio, in attempts to find young Elaina, who disappeared from her East Toledo home June 2.

“Nothing concrete was found then,” said Justice for Nevaeh founder Risa Smith, who organized the search.

On Saturday, volunteers probed parks, the woods, the banks of the river, and vacant houses near the water for more than eight hours.

Sgt. Joe Heffernan, Toledo police spokesman, did not return calls by The Blade seeking an update on the case.

Terry Steinfurth, Sr., Elaina’s paternal grandfather, participated in the search and maintains hope that his granddaughter is alive. “When you’re searching for a child, you can’t lose hope that she’s alive,” Ms. Smith said. “The best thing you can do is get some closure.”

Justice for Nevaeh will conduct another search Monday. A location has yet to be determined, Ms. Smith said.



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