Authorities in Texas are searching for a seven-year-old girl missing since Wednesday.
An AMBER Alert was issued for Athena Strand on Thursday after she went missing the night before.
According to the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, the child was dropped off from school at her home in Paradise at 4.30pm on Wednesday. Her stepmother reportedly called officers to report her missing around 6.40pm that day when she didn’t find Athena in her room after an argument.
The department said during a press conference on Friday that the argument was not “unusual” and that the child “walked away” but didn’t come back. It is believed her health and safety may be in danger and although foul play is not suspected at this time, an abduction has not been ruled out, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.
“Then stepmom went to fix dinner, came back to get Athena, and Athena wasn’t in her room,” Mr Akin said.
No other calls had been made to the residence prior to Wednesday, authorities said.
Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Presley Gandy, pleaded on social media for the public’s help.
“Athena didn’t walk away or disappear on her own. I will not give up or stop until I have Athena back,” Ms Presley said in a post on Thursday. “I feel like there is a hole in my heart and half of my soul is missing ... Please do not give up on my baby.”
Deputies responding to the scene after the 911 call was made canvassed the neighbourhood looking for Athena but were not able to locate her.
Overnight, local police and the Texas Department of Public Safety continued the search with helicopters and K-9 units to no avail.
US Marshals, the FBI and Texas Rangers have since joined the investigation.
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office said that the case was transitioning into an investigative phase, although search efforts are not going to be completely halted.
Athena is blonde and has blue eyes. She is 4ft in height and weighs around 65 pounds. She was last seen wearing a grey and black long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and brown boots.
Anyone with information about Athena’s whereabouts is asked to call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at 940-627-5971.
This is a developing story ... Check back for updates.