CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - A missing 7-year-old girl in Carbondale was found alive on Tuesday afternoon.
According to police, she was found around 1:45 p.m. by Carbondale City employees involved in the search in the 1500 block of North Marion Street extension in Carbondale. She was found near the Old Koppers Wood treatment plant.
Heartland News caught up with the man who found the girl. John Lenzini is supervisor over building and neighborhood services. He’s a dad, husband but also a concerned community member that wanted to bring Patrice Dotson home. So he and six of his employees connected with Carbondale and was assigned the northeast side.
“We were on foot and we just happened to go down an Old Road Bed Trail and look around. it was very thick,” he said. “And I got up in a deer stand and looked out over the woods to find her and called her by the name that her family said that she used. I just kept walking and found some grass that was beat down and i said will this looks like someone’s been through here," he said.
He said there was a wide like a circle and that he started yelling her name again and then she responded, and there she was.
She had been sitting or lying in the grass. He asked her to raise her hand, and still couldn't see her.
He was like 20 feet away and still couldn’t see her. Then she raised her hand and he found her and called 911.
He said that she was not crying, and she stood right up when he asked her to stand up.
“It was surreal. I mean, she was in a very remote place," said Lenzini.
They say Patrice was reunited with her family and then taken to a Carbondale hospital. The doctors checked Patrice and said she was in good health. She only had minimal cuts on her legs.
We talked to her grandfather, Willie Dotson, shortly after they found her.
“...I am thrilled that she is alive and well and that she has the opportunity to grow up and be the young lady she is supposed to be,” he said. “And blessed to have people like everyone who helped me. Police, community, camera people, everyone.”
Patrice’s mother, Sincerae Dotson, said her daughter described a woman dropping her off in a wooded area off of Marion Street. Plus, Dotson said there’s no way Patrice could walk some 2 miles from her home because she had trouble walking.
“Somebody intentionally put her out there, so them telling me she wandered off, there’s no way she wandered off,” Dotson said. “Somebody took her and put her eout there and left her out there.”
Police Chief Jeff Grubbs said they will continue the investigation into what happened.
“Our investigation is continuing and ongoing," said Grubbs. "The recovery of Patrice was of the utmost importance, but that doesn’t mean we will stop investigating what happened from the time she went missing to the time she was found. “
Illinois State Police activated a Missing Person Advisory on Tuesday morning, June 11 at the request of the Carbondale Police Department. That advisory has been canceled.
According to police, Patrice Dotson, 7, was last seen in the 600 block of West Cherry Street around 6 p.m. on Monday, June 10.
The Endangered Person Advisory stated she went outside to look for her sister, the sister returned and Patrice did not.
The family offered a $5,000 reward for her safe return.
According to Lt. Edwards with the Carbondale Police Department, her age and undisclosed issues led officers to consider her endangered.
In addition to the community members who volunteered and businesses who donated items that greatly assisted the search efforts, police wanted to thank all Carbondale city employees including the police department, fire department, building and neighborhood services and public works.
They also thanked the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, SIU Police Department, Illinois State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, SIU Aviation, Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, SAR K-9 of Fairview Heights, Jackson County Emergency Management Agency, Jackson County 911 Office and the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The investigation is ongoing.