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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the world that we live in today how in there right mind would allow a 5 year old to go 2 houses let alone 2 blocks? The world today is a very mean and violent place. Mom should not get off with out realizing how LUCKY she really is to have her daughter back. How many children have to be abducted before parents wake up and keep a much closer eye on their children?

I am very glad that she was found alive and I hope they find the scum bag who did this and put him in my Greybar Hotel!! He might not walk back out!

Manhunt is on after child is found alive
Syracuse police chief says Britttany Fish is doing well and was very talkative

April 26, 2004

By John Mariani, Mike McAndrew and Jim Read
Staff writers

Police are searching for the man who abducted a 5-year-old North Side girl, who was found alive Sunday afternoon, 21 hours after she vanished and 6½ miles from home.

Brittany Fish, 5, of 201 Grumbach Ave., was discovered shortly before 3:14 p.m. under a tarpaulin outside a vacant trucking company depot at 7034 Schuyler Road, DeWitt. She was found by a man who was looking at property there and thought he heard a child crying, said Syracuse police Inspector Michael Kerwin.

Police "told us she was alive and asking for her mother," said Claire Swank, who lives near where Brittany was found.

Brittany described the man who abducted her as 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, 35 to 40 years old, balding, with a mustache, Syracuse police Chief Dennis DuVal said. The man was driving an older white car with a dirty gray interior. She did not know the man, police said.

Until Brittany was found, a massive search by police and informal efforts by neighbors and strangers had yielded no clues to the child's whereabouts, officials said.

"She is very lucky that God made sure we found her today," DuVal said at a 5:20 p.m. news conference.

DuVal said Brittany was doing well and was very talkative. "She's a very strong young lady," he added.

Brittany was taken to University Hospital for examination. She was joined by her mother, Patricia Demore; her father, Steven Fish, of Marcellus; and other relatives.

"They are happy and relieved," said Sally Demore, the girl’s stepgrandmother.

She also said Brittany should be a help to police. "She’s a good, intelligent girl."

Brittany’s aunt, Linda Slifka, of Marcellus, said Brittany was still at the hospital at 10 p.m. Sunday.

"She’s being checked. I hear she’s eating very well and is in good spirits," said Slifka, Steven Fish’s sister. "She’s a very friendly, cheery, smiley and happy child. There’s a lot of spirit in her."

Slifka said Brittany’s family is grateful to everyone who helped search for her. "Especially to the man who found her. That was our divine intervention," Slifka said.

Kerwin would not identify the man who found Brittany but said he is not a suspect. He would not confirm news reports that she was found bound and gagged.

News that Brittany had been found alive ran like wildfire through the girl’s neighborhood around Schiller Park.

Area residents and others from points as far away as Oswego County, who had spent hours searching parks, back yards and trash containers for the child, shouted, wept and hugged. Those who had driven to nearby neighborhoods to pass out handbills drove back to Grumbach Avenue, honking their horns.

"I am so happy right now," said Joanne Joyner, a Carbon Street resident who said she searched for Brittany until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, grabbed a few hours of sleep, then went back out to look some more. "I am so happy," she repeated in a whisper.

DuVal said he did not believe the youngster had been at the DeWitt location the entire time. He said he could only speculate as to what Brittany’s abductor planned next.

The temperatures fell to a low of 36 degrees at 5:13 a.m., the National Weather Service said. When she disappeared, Brittany was clad in capri pants and a shirt that said "I’m a big sister": Brittany’s mother is pregnant.

If Brittany had been out overnight, she was in "extreme danger of hypothermia," DuVal said.

Brittany left her home after 6 p.m. Saturday to travel two short blocks on her Barbie scooter to the home of her friend Naomi Diaz, 6, of Highland Street. The trip had become an evening ritual since the two girls became playmates about two weeks ago, said Jessica Kermes, Naomi’s stepmother.

When Brittany hadn’t arrived Saturday evening, Naomi went downhill to Brittany’s, Kermes said, only to return with the alarming news that she was not home, and her parents didn’t know where she was.

"My heart dropped," Kermes said. "I said, ‘Naomi, do you know anything? She wouldn’t go anywhere, would she?’ But the only place she goes is here."

Brittany was reported missing to Onondaga County 911 by 7:08 p.m., police said. Less than an hour later, police shifted communication to a radio channel reserved for major investigations.

By 9:14 p.m., they broadcast a general message saying the child was missing and triggering notification to the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which faxed or e-mailed notices to 8,000 locations within 50 miles of Syracuse, police said.

As Sunday dawned, police resumed the yard searches they began the night before. Teams of three officers knocked on doors in a six-block radius surrounding the Demore home, seeking witnesses.

Yellow police tape cordoned off the block of South Carbon Street between the Demore home and Hier Avenue, where Brittany’s scooter had been found in a storm sewer grate.

About 11:45 a.m. Sunday, a firefighter clad in a neoprene dry suit descended into the storm sewer basin on a ladder, carrying a shovel, to make sure Brittany had not fallen in. Firefighters had made the same trip the night before, but police wanted to double-check in daylight.

Meanwhile, investigators questioned all the Level 3 sex offenders who live near Brittany’s house Sunday before the child was found, Kerwin said. Level 3 offenders are convicted sex offenders whom the courts consider highly likely to commit another sex crime.

In the 13203 ZIP code, where Brittany’s family lives, 31 Level 3 sex offenders reside, according to a Web site maintained by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Nearly all of the 31 Level 3 offenders in the ZIP code reside at 400 James St., a high-rise apartment building, according to the DCJS Web site.

No leads emerged, officers said privately as the day wore on. Through intermittent showers, they and volunteers continued to search.

Steven Fish and his family were trying to stay optimistic Sunday but were fearing the worst, Slifka said.

"He (Steven) broke down several times seeing her picture on the TV. Other than that he was very strong. We were trying to think positive thoughts," she said.

Police were questioning Steven Fish on Sunday at the Public Safety Building when Brittany was found, Slifka said. She said the police did not consider Steven a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance. They were just seeking more information about Brittany.

"We’re still reeling from it," she said of Brittany’s rescue.

DuVal said he was attending a briefing for the next shift of officers coming on duty when Sgt. Tom Connellan received the call from 911 that Brittany had been found.

He commended the 30 to 40 police officers, 20 FBI agents, 15 sheriff’s deputies and fire and public works personnel who contributed to the search.

But in the end, he said, officials caught a break, that a resident heard a child’s cry and checked it out.

The investigation "hadn’t gotten to where we’d like it to be," DuVal said. "I believe there is a divine intervention to everything that happens. It’s not like we did some superb police work" that resulted in finding Brittany.

Susan Watling said she was near the Burger King restaurant on Butternut Street, passing out the last of 800 leaflets she and her friends had reproduced, when a passing police officer gave her the good news: Brittany Fish had been found alive in DeWitt.

"I'm so happy this little kid is alive," said Watling, of Carbon Street, as she celebrated with neighbors outside Brittany's home at 201 Grumbach Ave.

"I don't know her," she said. "But you can feel."

Watling was among dozens of residents, some from the neighborhood, others from as far away as Baldwinsville and Pennellville, who had dropped what they were doing to search for Brittany.

As word spread that the object of their search had been found, they returned to Grumbach Avenue, hugging, weeping and blaring car horns.

Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll singled out the civilian search efforts for praise at a news conference to announce Brittany had been found.

"I think it says a lot about our community," Syracuse police Chief Dennis DuVal said.

Neighbors by the dozen came out Saturday night and again on Sunday to help. Volunteers passed out fliers, some downloaded from the Internet, others handwritten, bearing the missing girl's picture and description.

Connie Cleveland, of Hier Avenue, said she began searching after the call came from the 911 Center Saturday night. After checking her property, she hit the streets. "We were going into people's yards," she said. "We went through garbage cans and Dumpsters, all the Dumpsters we could find."

Cleveland said she wanted to help because she has a 5-year-old granddaughter who lives in the Cayuga County town of Victory. "I called my daughter up on the phone and told her not to let her out of her sight."

"I've been here since 8 this morning. I heard the bulletins last night. I was up until 3," said Rosemary Whitbeck, a Woodruff Avenue resident. "I have a 5-year-old grandson. I had to do something.

Whitbeck said police asked her and other volunteers to put their names on a phone list to help with a search. When the call didn't come, she said, they went out on their own.

"Seven of us fanned the whole woods in Schiller Park," Whitbeck said. At one point, she said, two women screamed to her husband that they had found a suspicious-looking bag. They opened it and found a dead dog, its muzzle wrapped in duct tape.

Whitbeck was one of several neighbors who voiced frustration with police.

"It's almost like they don't want the help," she said. Later Sunday, 13 volunteers confronted Syracuse police Inspector Michael Kerwin about organizing them into a search.

The police, Kerwin said, were organizing a search that would operate "in a reasonable, gridlike, documentable fashion."

Anger seemed to dissolve as volunteers celebrated. But concern for the neighborhood's children remained heightened. Members of the Northside Neighborhood Group of Syracuse, New York Inc., who had joined the search, said their next meeting would be devoted to how parents and children can guard against abduction.

That meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 17 at the Our Lady of Pompei School cafeteria, said Anthony Borelli, vice president
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