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Friday, March 25, 2011

Connecticut Girl Found Alive

Isabella Oleschuk: Missing Conn. girl found alive, how police handled her case

It was the best possible ending any family and community could have hoped for - 12-year-old Isabella "Bella" Oleschuk went missing Sunday and was found alive and well Wednesday - her safe return was a result of teamwork and a valiant search effort organized by the Orange Police.
Over 100 men and women braved the elements each day and joined in the search for Bella. People in her local community put their names on a list in case police needed their help. Her local media kept people across the country informed every step of the way. And Bella had the support of an online community who, like her local community, were all hoping and praying for her safe return.
One of the biggest fears searchers had was that Bella, deaf in one ear and without her hearing aid, would not be able to hear them when they called out her name. It's cold in Connecticut, so time was not on their side.
Then on Wednesday morning at 10:46 a.m. a woman driving along Indian Hill Road noticed something in an old farm stand that caught her attention. She turned her car around to take another look and saw Bella's blonde hair. She did exactly what police asked their community to do - she called them immediately. 
In no time Orange Police Officer Jude Fedorchuck arrived, looked into a hole on the side of a garage near the farm stand, and saw a little girl with blonde hair and a bandana on her head. He asked her to come out.
She gathered her belongings and walked outside. When Officer Fedorchuck asked her name she replied "Isabella."
"I asked if she'd eaten and she said she had Pop Tarts and granola bars. She had a coat and blankets. She was very quiet," Officer Fedorchuck said. "I am a father, so I am very relieved," he said.
Everyone in the town of Orange was ecstatic when they heard the news Wednesday morning that Bella had been found just three-and-a-half miles from her home. The woman who listened to her instinct and turned her car around, she's a hero. Bella was alone, temperatures were dipping into the low 30s at night, and she was running out of food. It's a miracle she was found, the miracle the town of Orange prayed for. 
The Rev. Ann Ritonia with the Church of the Good Shepherd commented on an Orange Patch article saying, "I just moved to Orange and have been overwhelmed at the love and support this community has shown to Isabella and her family. Bravo and job well done to the Orange Police Department and to the law enforcement officials and volunteers. I am proud to call Orange my new home. The professionalism especially that of Chief Gagne is a credit to his character and that of the Department. I thank God for all of you."
Also to be commended is the Asst. Chief, Edward A. Koether, who took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to media updated via email. 
When kids go missing
When children between the ages of 10 and 17 go missing many of them are quickly classified "runaways." Many of those children remain on a list in police departments and do not get investigated the way a case would for a child under the age of 10, or even for an adult.
Many of these kids are simply seen as runaway teens who will be home in a day or two.
But they don't all come home in a day or two, as was recently seen in the Elizabeth Ennen case. Unfortunately some never come home at all because they were misclassified as runaways when in fact they'd been abducted and murdered. 
Fortunately in Bella's case she did leave of her own free will and she was found alive and well. What is so important to note is that Orange Police knew there was a high possibility she had left on her own, and yet that didn't stop them from searching for her and not giving up.
She was a child missing and possibly in danger, and they never lost sight of that. 
Choices police make
Police have choices to make each time a child goes missing. This National Missing Persons news writer commends the Orange Police in Connecticut for the way they handled Bella's case.
Orange Police learned Bella was missing at 8:18 a.m. Sunday morning. On day one they were out in force searching for her, calling in the FBI, State Police, fire fighters, the Community Emergency Rescue Team (CERT), K-9 units, and other agencies to come help with the search. By nightfall Sunday they had spent a day searching the woods around her home. 
When night fell they sent some searchers home due to the dangerous and treacherous conditions. Early Sunday evening a state police helicopter and airplane were sent up to search the ground from above with infrared equipment in hopes of finding Bella.
Police were asking everyone in the public to search their barns and meadows because Bella loves horses. They were concerned because temperatures were dipping below freezing at night. They searched on the ground with flashlights while others searched from the air. 
Police announced on Sunday they would not stop until they had resolution in Bella's case.
Their search efforts only increased as the days wore on.
On Wednesday before they found Bella police said they would not stop until she was found. 
Just as the Orange Police were planning a press conference Wednesday morning where Bella's parents were scheduled to speak, they got the wonderful news Bella had been found. Cries of joys could be heard when police made the announcement to the townspeople. 
They were determined, they never gave up, and their efforts paid off. 

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